Va. Lawmakers Hope to Tackle Budget Problems, Social Issues in Early Days of Session

The Virginia General Assembly's 2017 session has started, with lawmakers kicking off a 45-day sprint Wednesday that will see lawmakers tackle budget problems, state employee pay issues and a host of thorny social issues.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave his annual address to lawmakers Wednesday evening, where he explained his priorities for his last year in office. The governor, a Democrat, faces long odds on getting key parts of his agenda through a GOP-controlled General Assembly.

Click here to watch a stream of the speech 

McAuliffe is predicting a productive working relationship with Republican lawmakers during this year's legislative session, which he said will focus on improving mental health services and stemming opioid abuse.

The Democratic governor told reporters he expects to work well with Republicans on other issues such as reforming the state's economic development agency and addressing an estimated $1.26 billion budget shortfall. 

McAuliffe is entering his fourth and final year in office. His speech is also expected to tout his work during his first three years, particularly in the areas of economic development, transportation and education.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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