parleyed with some of the women of Prince William County Friday about a range of weighty topics affecting the government at both the state and federal levels.
Seated at a cluster of white linen-clothed tables in Osprey’s Landing Restaurant along the Occoquan River in Woodbridge, Kaine spoke to the women, some of them business owners, about the value of businesses that employ a small staff.
“Small businesses are the job creators,” Kaine said. “Job creators are the startups.”
Lawmakers should focus on the policies that make it easier to start a small business and for its owners to gain access to capital, he said.
Kaine also talked about employment as it relates to military personnel and veterans.
New veterans have a higher rate of unemployment than the national average, he said.
“I think the military and veterans is a talent. The people who will do everything for you, who will put it all on the line for you—you better make sure you train and recruit and equipment; that you provide benefits for (them.) You better make sure you make the right decisions and not the wrong decisions about how you use that talent.”
During the roundtable discussion, Kaine, who is a former governor of Virginia, spoke about balancing the nation’s budget and about its current $1.3 trillion deficit.
“I’m the only governor in modern history who left office with a smaller general fund budget than what we started with,” he said. “I know something about having to make cuts.”
You can’t cut your to way prosperity, he said. People who only make cuts are making a big mistake.
“ … when I look in the mirror I want to be thinner, but I don’t want to be weaker,” he said. “An all-cut strategy is just a way of making your economy weaker.”
The discussion later gravitated toward education—particularly the education of young women in the math and sciences.
STEM or, as one roundtable attendee said she preferred, STEAM, are acronyms for Science Technology Engineering and Math.
There are programs that encourage children to pursue STEM in higher education and careers, but a lot of these programs only attract boys and not girls, one woman told Kaine Friday.
But there are some families who are encouraging their girls to pursue STEM and develop their math and tech talents.
“I have a granddaughter and we are looking at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Now I want you to know, she’s only in the fifth grade,” one attendee said, smiling. “But she’s a math whiz.”
Kaine said many colleges and universities around the country are looking at Virginia and how it is making college more affordable for students.
He is a supporter of the agreement between the state’s four-year institutions and its community colleges that allows community college students with a 3.0 grade point average or higher to transfer to a university as a junior.
All their credits and grades transfer, but they end up paying 30 percent less for college than someone who attended a university all four years, Kaine said.
Kaine, a former governor of Virginia, is up against Republican George Allen.
Allen, also a former governor and U.S. senator, won a GOP primary on Tuesday. The two will be on the ballot in November. The winner of the election will take the seat now occupied by Sen. Jim Webb, who announced his retirement last year from the Senate.