April 5, 2006
Governor Kaine was in Charlottesville Wednesday to speak to a politics class at UVA. For some 30 years governors have been speaking to students at the school. For students looking to learn something, they got a lesson on the general assembly and transportation issues here in Virginia.
"They're more knowledgeable. Students today, maybe because of the Internet, know a lot more about public affairs, civics, the headlines, they follow the news closely, and they really are able to ask excellent questions," said Larry Sabato, the Director of UVA's Center for Politics.
In response to those questions the students heard from Governor Kaine on what he hopes to accomplish. Wednesday, one of those hopes was getting the state's budget passed.
"The budget conferees have probably met for less than 10 hours in the last three and a half weeks, and that's not conducive," said Kaine. "That doesn't show, 'Hey, Virginia, we know this is serious, we wanna pass a budget.'"
That, he says, is discouraging. The general assembly is scheduled to meet on Monday, in another attempt at reaching an agreement. The governor says he has a clear message for them.
"The leadership just needs to commit, to look each other in the eye, and find reasonable compromises," he said.
The major hangup is Kaine's transportation proposal. While much of the focus has been on areas like northern Virginia, he says our area is affected and would see the benefits if his plan, too.
"Congestion, need for public transportation, what's the right way to synchronize traffic lights on 29 so that it's not a hassle? What are the right land use tools for future development in Albemarle County so it doesn't create more congestion?" Each of those issues would be addressed, according to Kaine.
But despite the delays in approving a budget, the governor says he's optimistic that an agreement can be reached.
"It really just takes a willingness to listen, and good faith, and, for God's sake, just sit down at the table and talk. Don't meet for half an hour and then leave for a week," Kaine said.
While the governor admits a budget must be passed, he also pointed out Wednesday that legislators have been successful in passing both education and health care legislation.
Kaine also told the students that each year he plans to tackle another new issue. In the coming years he says those will include education, health care, and the environment.
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