Governor: Brain power is economic power


RICHMOND Although Virginias statistics of students receiving a college education are among the top five states, Gov. Tim Kaine says thats not good enough.

In a telephone conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Kaine addressed central issues before the General Assembly this session. Higher education was at the top of his agenda.

In his State of the Commonwealth address, Kaine proposed a $1.65 billion bond package for Virginias higher education institutions. In his speech, he said the bond projects, such as facilities for teaching engineering and science, would continue the acceleration of our top-notch higher education system.

During the conference call, the Democratic governor highlighted the bond package among other key issues, such as mental health, gun control and economic concerns.

I think it (the proposed bond program) is a great investment and the best economic strategy for higher education, Kaine said.

What would the bond package mean for Virginias education system?

Kaine has proposed that Virginia issue bonds in other words, borrow money to finance about 75 projects at universities and community colleges across the state.

If the General Assembly approves his plan, Virginians would vote on the issue in November. If the package passes in the statewide election, the funds would start being distributed in January 2009.

Kaines proposal spans all colleges across Virginia, which include:

  • More than $115 million toward Virginia Tech to construct a Medical School and Research Institute and a Sciences Building Laboratory
  • More than $96 million toward James Madison University to renovate Duke Hall, as well as construct Biotech/Centennial Hall
  • More than $105 million toward George Mason University to construct new additions to the campus library and Krasnow, Phase Two
  • More than $105 million toward Virginia Commonwealth University to renovate the Massey Cancer Centers laboratory support and construct a new School of Medicine 

The governor said the package would mean at least five to seven years of construction, and economic and educational growth for all of the commonwealths campuses.

The proposed bond package supports innovative research, providing facilities across Virginia for researchers to develop new, cutting-edge technologies and turn them into commercial assets, Kaine said.

The last higher education bond package was in 2002 and totaled about $900 million. This time around, Kaine said, its not only about educating individuals its about the economic expansion of Virginia as well.

The best way to grow the economy is to grow brain power, Kaine said.

*Web extra*

(complete list of projects included in the governors higher-education bond proposal)