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The two candidates for Virginia’s open Senate seat contrasted their views on taxes, immigration policy and budget cuts during a forum Thursday before an audience of local technology industry leaders.

Former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) expressed support for a mix of tax increases and budget cuts as a short-term fix to the nation’s budget deficit.

In the short run, Kaine said he favors allowing the tax cuts passed during President George W. Bush’s term to expire for people with incomes of more than $500,000 per year. In the long-term, he favors a simplified tax code with lower rates, a broader base and fewer exemptions, he said.

Former governor and Sen. George Allen (R) favors reducing federal spending and lower corporate income taxes that he thinks would stimulate economic growth.

Allen said business taxes should be “simple, fair, flatter and lower,” suggesting a 20 percent rate. He added businesses should not have to pay taxes on income earned and taxed in another country, which he thinks will help stimulate economic growth.

When it comes to cutting expenses, Allen expressed opposition to major defense cuts and instead targeted entitlement reform. He thinks giving states more control of Medicaid and Medicare programs would introduce efficiencies.

He also favors a one-time bonus for federal employees who come up with cost-saving ideas.

Kaine similarly said he favors empowering the federal work force to make recommendations about areas to cut, similar to the approach he took to budget cuts as governor. Defense and entitlement spending need to be on the table for cuts as well, he said.

“I think European countries outsource their defense to us and we don’t need to continue to shoulder that burden,” Kaine said, advocating a base realignment process for overseas posts.

The candidates offered somewhat divergent views on immigration policy.

Kaine is in favor the “American Dream Act,” which would allow children who were illegally brought to the U.S. by their parents to stay here legally. He also favors reforms to the work and travel visa policies.

For foreign students attending American universities, “We should make it easy for them to stay here,” he said.

Although Allen also indicated some support for allowing students who have work in the U.S. to stay, his focus would be on ensuring U.S. citizens are well prepared for the jobs that need to be filled.

“We in America ought to be encouraging more young people to study math and science,” he said.

On that point, both Kaine and Allen agree.

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com