Tim Kaine, speaking in both English and Spanish, told those in attendance Wednesday that investing in education and infrastructure is key to bringing jobs to the state and boosting the nation's economy.
"Infrastructure and transportation investments are not only critical for our long-term economic success, but they also put folks to work immediately," Kaine said. "Unfortunately, the same anti-investment mentality that has plagued Richmond for years is taking hold in Washington."
As a former governor of Virginia, Kaine said he worked very hard to ensure federal funding for Phase 1 of the Dulles Rail Project. "Dulles Rail languished on drawing boards for decades until I helped bring a bipartisan group together to find a path forward," he said. "By working with state and federal leaders, public and private partners, and administrations of both parties to secure $900 million in federal investment, we got shovels in the ground for Phase I."
Kaine said it is important to send someone to Washington that is wiling to work with others to make investments in our crumbling infrastructure and future transportation projects.
"We can’t afford to have our state and our country sit on the sidelines as China, India, and other nations build up a network of infrastructure around us," he said. "It’s time for Congress to put aside their partisan concerns and pass a long-term transportation plan that is guaranteed to spur growth in our economy."
Kaine's plan to win the economic race by growing and attracting talent through investing in education was something that garnered support by many who attended the economic roundtable held at Move-4-Free Reality in Prince William County.
Those in attendance pointed to the state's Head Start program as a necessary "springboard" for children entering grade school, and investing in higher education as a way to help adults who want to return to high school, college or both.
Kaine expressed the importance of not only putting dollars towards education but also evaluating strategies and curriculum.
“If we want to be stronger economically we can learn some lessons from Virginia,” Kaine said. “Once Virginia embraced talent our economy started to grow. The Virginia story teaches us that if you win the talent race you win the economic race."
He said as governor he worked with the legislature to make critical investments in the biggest expansion of higher education facilities in the state's history, and as senator, will continue to work to make college more affordable.
"It's not just about making sure the interest rates on student loans don't skyrocket, but tuition costs need to be more affordable," he said.
He told the group of mostly Latino business owners and community leaders that he is a "huge" supporter of the DREAM Act and visa reform to allow students that are in the United States and succeeding to stay.
The senate candidate also told the group he is not interested in deporting the nearly $12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. "There's no way that that's going to happen and people don't want that to happen," he said.
Kaine suggests having a financial penalty for being undocumented in the U.S. that would be put back into border security.
The event marked the 62nd roundtable event Kaine has held across the state. He also attended a joint technology town hall in Reston Tuesday, alongside his opponent, George Allen.
Kaine is running against Allen in the race for the U.S. Senate seat this November being vacated by Jim Webb.