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Visions from vying Virginians

October 28, 2012 12:10 am

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Democratic candidate Tim Kaine (left) shakes hands with Republican candidate George Allen at a recent debate in the campaign for the U.S. Senate seat representing the commonwealth of Virginia. edkain28a.jpg

Tim Kaine proudly recalls Virginia's top rating as a business-friendly state during his years as governor.

RICHMOND

--Virginia is poised to lead the way in a global economy. We boast a highly skilled workforce, unparalleled access to global markets through Dulles Airport and the Port of Virginia, and burgeoning industries that will continue to flourish if given the right support. However, Congress' inability to compromise is an ankle weight on our economic recovery and will continue to stifle our businesses' ability to create jobs if leaders in Washington don't work together.

There are things we can do right away to allow small businesses to grow and create jobs, including leveling the playing field when it comes to taxes, increasing access to capital, and helping them to export more goods overseas. Large businesses and corporations with teams of accountants and lobbyists are too often given a tax advantage over the small businesses that create the majority of new jobs. By simplifying the tax code and closing gaping loopholes, we can ensure small businesses are treated fairly.

We also need to invest in infrastructure like roads, rail, bridges, broadband, airports, and ports that will create jobs today and raise our platform for future economic growth. The more international connections we have, the more successful we will be as a commonwealth. Upgrading assets like Dulles Airport and the Port of Virginia isn't just good for their respective regions; it's good for businesses all over the commonwealth.

BUSINESS-FRIENDLY

When I was governor, publications ranked us America's most business-friendly state all four years, but recently, Virginia has dropped in business rankings because we have neglected to build a 21st-century infrastructure. This is a result of politicians, like my opponent, who take pledges to never raise revenue for these projects. The consequence is further gridlock on our roads that robs people of time with their families and jobs.

Government won't be the primary force behind job creation, and it shouldn't be. But it can implement policies to bolster the creativity and ingenuity that has made America an economic superpower. As governor, I worked to secure resources for infrastructure projects like HOT lanes on the Beltway and rail to Dulles. These upgrades help commuters across Virginia get to work faster and will make it possible for businesses to move goods and services at the speed of a global economy.

SOME GOOD LESSONS

In the long term, our country should take some lessons from Virginia and embrace and invest in the talent of our workers to propel economic growth. In my lifetime, no state has moved as far and as fast as Virginia has in economic competitiveness. The reason? We decided to commit to training a skilled workforce that could out-compete and out-innovate the rest of the world. As a result, companies continue to relocate to Virginia to be around workers who can fill the jobs of tomorrow.

Today our nation is slipping in educational attainment. To continue to lead the world, we need to reform education so our workers are getting the skills that will continue to attract new companies and industries to the commonwealth. We also must improve affordability so that all our kids can have access to the right education and training to compete in high-tech industries of the future. These are ideas that can attract support from both parties, and I look forward to working on them with other members of the Senate.

During my term as governor, I worked with both Republicans and Democrats to expand early childhood education by more than 40 percent, pass a record higher-education bond package that upgraded community-college and university facilities across Virginia, and directed millions in financial aid to students. I was proud when Education Week named Virginia the best state in which to raise a child.

Finally, we need a balanced approach to our budgets and our politics. The best ideas will not gain traction unless parties work together to solve the challenges of closing our deficit and reducing our debt. Currently, we face an immediate threat of sequestration cuts that were born out of Congress' runaway spending and then the parties' inability to work together. These across-the-board cuts of $1 trillion to both defense and domestic spending would have a devastating effect on defense contractors in Fredericksburg, including HDT Robotics, which I recently visited with Sen. Mark Warner.

THE SPECIFICS

I've laid out a bipartisan, specific plan to address these cuts and avert their harmful impact. First, we should allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for income above $500,000, generating $500 billion in revenue. In addition, if we allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices like we do in the Veterans Administration, and end subsidies to large oil companies, we can generate another $265 billion in order to reduce those cuts to a manageable level of targeted savings across every item of the budget.

As a governor facing the worst recession in 70 years, I had to make $5 billion in spending cuts but I knew that if we were only cutting, we would be making a big mistake. My opponent believes in that all-cuts approach and has sworn to never consider any new revenue. That would mean dramatic cuts to important priorities like education, Medicare, and transportation that are critical to the well-being of our families and to a growing economy.

I know how to work with both parties to solve fiscal challenges and grow the economy, because it's what we did in Virginia during my time as governor and as a mayor. That's why we were named America's Best Managed State by Governing magazine. When I worked with a Republican legislature to preserve battlefields in Fredericksburg, cut spending, and improve education, it was always by listening to both sides and looking for areas of compromise.

Both sides are going to have to leave political posturing and ideology at the door and work together to get things done. That's always been the Virginia way and it is what I will do if elected to the U.S. Senate.




TIM KAINE PROMOTES COMPROMISE, JOBS, AND EDUCATION

Tim Kaine served as the 70th governor of Virginia and is a candidate for U.S. Senate.




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