Repeating a refrain of many Virginia elected officials, former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) said he hopes to “take a lesson from Virginia” and apply it to the national economy if he is elected to the U.S. Senate this fall.
Kaine met with Northern Virginia business leaders Wednesday in Arlington, along with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D), to unveil his economic agenda for the campaign.
His opponent in the Senate race will be determined in the Republican Party primary June 12. Former Sen. George Allen, also a former Virginia governor, is favored to win the GOP nomination. He faces competition from tea party activist Jamie Radtke, Del. Bob Marshall and minister E.W. Jackson.
The release of Kaine’s formal plan follows about 20 roundtable discussions he conducted with small business leaders around the state. He advocates investments in infrastructure and clean energy to help spur job growth, improving education and more balance in both the federal budget and congressional politics.
“I’m a big believer in infrastructure spending and I battled my legislature about it,” Kaine said, adding he also would fight in favor of such spending in Congress.
Access to capital also is a top concern for the small business owners that he met with during the roundtable discussions, Kaine said.
Because of that need, he supports the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act that President Barack Obama signed into law Thursday. The legislation makes it easier for regular investors to put money into small businesses.
Education is a core focus of Kaine’s economic agenda because “we have got to have a national talent strategy.”
He said the U.S. is slipping in terms of educational attainment, particularly in science and technology fields. To build the talent pool, Kaine said, there needs to be more career and technical education, better pre-kindergarten options, improved college affordability and immigration reform that allows more international students to remain here to work after college, in some circumstances.
“If we fix everything else ... but we keep slipping on the talent side, we’re still not going to be happy with the opportunities,” Kaine said, adding businesses follow talent.
Kaine and Warner, who is hoping his former lieutenant governor soon will be the state’s junior senator, also took questions from the group of business men and women about the health care law, employment opportunities for veterans and science and technology education.
Both said they supported the Affordable Care Act, but think it is a bill that will need tweaking in the coming years.
“This was an imperfect bill, but the status quo was going to bankrupt the country,” Warner said.
The ongoing challenge is in the area of cost controls, Kaine said, shifting from a model where medical personnel are paid for procedures to one in which they are paid for health outcomes.