Kaine speaks to community leaders

Published 3:22 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2018

As part of kicking off his campaign for re-election, Sen. Tim Kaine visited the Heart of Virginia on Friday to speak to community leaders of Farmville and Prince Edward at The Fishin’ Pig. More than 20 people from the private and public sectors were in attendance.

“I’ve watched Farmville over the years as I’ve come here to buy a canoe or a kayak or come here when I was lieutenant governor or governor for Girls State or come for other things, I’ve watched the downtown kind of rejuvenate,” Kaine said. “There’s a lot of downtowns or small towns in Virginia that need, you know, some shots of life and energy and rejuvenation, and I think Farmville’s done some really good things with the downtown area.”

He said he’s learned about the power of having a local college from Farmville.

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“If you have a local educational institution, it’s more than just educated people; it also becomes a part of the economy,” Kaine said. “Some communities get that; Farmville gets it. Some there’s still a bit of tug of war between the college and the town, but the smart cities realize that having a college there is one of the things you really need to push if you want to do economic development. Farmville’s done a really good job at that.”

Kaine also spoke about solutions the Senate is looking to come to before the end of January, one of which is the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is a program that provides matching funds to states from the federal level for health insurance to families with children. The program covers uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid. The funding for CHIP is set to run out by March.

“The bill that was passed out of the Senate committee that’s just on the floor, the Senate bill basically authorized the permit for five years,” Kaine said. “So it just would take the current program that’s in place and, say it’s been in place since 1997 and it’s been reauthorized a couple times along the way, that would just basically fund it for the next five years, so basically just keeps the program going steady.”

He said the bill was voted for unanimously in the committee, “so that’s the version that we really like.”

“One of the issues that’s the current debate between the Senate and the House is, ‘What’s the pay for the program?’” Kaine said. “And that’s still being debated. But the program under our version wouldn’t change at all, so parents now that have kids wouldn’t see the differences in the program at all.”

Kaine also discussed difficulties regarding new requirements schools must meet for accreditation in Virginia, namely those related to career and technical education.

“Especially when you get into career and technical education, you might find somebody who’s like the best carpenter in the world, and they can teach you carpentry, but they don’t have an education certification — it’s just that they’ve been working as a carpenter their whole life,” Kaine said. “So I think there probably is some work to be done between at our level, at federal level with the state in career and technical education to make it easier for teachers to get certified to do this work.”

He said the good news is, “I think for a long time career and technical education there was sort of a stigma about it: ‘Oh no everybody’s gotta go to college.’”

“That’s actually starting to change, so a lot of school systems are now more focused on career and technical education, and we’re pushing from a federal level to do the same thing,” Kaine said.