Former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine touched on talent and other changes he believes will spark the national economy during a Tuesday afternoon tour of Fibertek, a company that specializes in lasers and electro-optical systems for military and aerospace use.
In a town hall meeting with employees Tuesday afternoon, he told the crowd he had both good and bad news about the economy.
The good: When Kaine was born, Virginia was in 32nd place in per capita income, and the state is now ranked seventh nationally.
The upward mobility began when Virginia decided to be a state that would invest in talent, Kaine said. To prove his point, Kaine, who hosted a town hall meeting at the technology company Tuesday afternoon, asked how many of Fibertek’s employees were from states other than Virginia. A large portion of them raised their hands.
Attracting talent from other states is a large part of what has helped Virginia businesses grow, Kaine said -- for instance, Tumblr.com now works out of the company’s Richmond offices, rather than its New York buildings, which drives development and innovation and also attracts more people to the area.
The bad news comes when looking at the national economy, he said. Kaine told the employees the U.S. ranks 16th in the percentage of 20- to 30-year-olds getting a college or other continuing education.
If he’s elected to the U.S. Senate this November, Kaine said part of his focus will be on talent policy and mimicking the kind of success Virginia has seen in other parts of the country.
Kaine, a Democrat, who will face fellow former Virginia Gov. George Allen (R) this November, said Congress needs to work to cut $2-3 for every $1 in revenue to balance the federal budget. He said his two main focuses for cuts would be defense and Medicare, along with tax changes and big oil subsidies.
Other issues Kaine discussed included:
Technology: Kaine said by using the technology the US has available to it, they can work to reduce the number of troops that are stationed overseas. He said reducing the number of personnel overseas will help create savings.
Health Care: When the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage was put in place there was one mistake that was made, Kaine said. He said when the deal was struck the government agreed that it would not be able to negotiate for federal discounts on prescription drugs from private companies, even though the government already negotiates discounts for the Veteran Affairs system.
Reforming Medicare could mean up to $25 billion per year in savings without jeopardizing the program itself, Kaine said.
Tax Cuts: Kaine said he would like to see the Bush tax cuts expire for those making more than $500,000 annually. He said they were always supposed to be temporary. He said within 10 years the country could see a $500 billion to $600 billion deficit reduction.
Oil: Kaine said he would also like to see the government stop giving subsidies to big oil companies. He said they are doing well on their own and don’t need the help.
Transportation: Kaine said he would also work to bring more funds to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.
“Getting the state to put more money in buys down the toll rates, getting the federal government to put more money in buys down toll rates,” Kaine said. “That’s why when I was governor I fought so hard for the $900 million for Dulles Rail Phase 1”
Kaine said he would work closely with the state to find more money for the project.
“I would do it in concert with the state government and say, ‘I’m going to fight really hard for more federal resources, what can you put on the table,’” Kaine said. “I do think it’s a project of national significance.”
For photos from the event, click through the gallery above.
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