Va. Gov. Youngkin discusses school merit controversy, abortion, behavioral health resources

Following his second State of the Commonwealth address, Virginia's Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin joined FOX 5 to discuss his priorities for 2023 including the budget, the investigation into allegations that one of the state's top high schools deprived students of national merit recognition, and gun control.

"We have a lot to accomplish. We've come a long way, but we've got a lot more to do, and I'm looking forward to getting to work with our General Assembly," Youngkin said.

Merit Recognition Controversy

Youngkin recently called for an investigation into allegations that Thomas Jefferson High School, one of the top high schools in Northern Virginia, deprived students of the national merit recognition they earned until after important deadlines for college scholarships had passed. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares expanded the investigation to include all Fairfax County Public Schools.

"At the foundation is the recognition that we have to allow our students to be recognized for their achievements," he said Thursday. "And when there appears to be a systematic effort to not do that, that cuts across all Virginians in the values that we hold, dear."

Youngkin said he has asked the Attorney General to investigate. "We want to make sure that Virginia's children who excel are allowed to get the accolades they deserve, and to use them to apply to college."

He said there could be a possible violation to the Virginia Human Rights Act.

"Virginia schools stand and for excellence, he said. "We can raise the ceiling and the floor in Virginia."


Youngkin is seeking legislation to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

"Virginia has elected a pro-life governor and we put forth a 15 week bill to protect life when a child can feel pain," he said. "I think this is a moment for us to come together and not be divided, and i'm hopeful that there will be a constructive discussion here." Youngkin added there is room for compromise.


Youngkin said even with his administration's $4 billion in tax relief, and record investment in schools and law enforcement, outmigration from Virginia is still greater than those moving in – and says tax burden could be to blame.

"At the heart of this is a very important step to cut tax further. We need to bring the cost of living down for Virginians, cut taxes so that Virginians will stay here and more people will move here," he said.

"We have folks in northern Virginia and across the commonwealth who are choosing to move to North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Georgia. They're going to places where there are lower taxes. That's our issue - to bring people to the commonwealth, not have them leave."

Gun Laws & Behavioral Health Resources

"Virginia has some of the toughest gun laws in America. And yet we continue to see that this behavioral health crisis that is plaguing the nation and Virginia presents itself in violence in the workplace, presents itself in suicides and it presents itself in murders," Younkin said.

"And this is the place were Virginia has the biggest gap," he continued. "That's why we have to go to work to make sure that we fund in a bold step to close this gap.

"I want to close capacity in schools. I want to close capacity for same day services so that Virginians can get the help they need," Younkin said. "This is a moment for us to recognize that our behavioral health crisis is not one that we can just talk about. Virginians deserve actions, and that's why we have a bold plan to close the big gap in behavioral health services across the commonwealth."