Kaine’s Budget Plug: Higher Education

Chairman Tim Kaine recently unveiled his economic plan. One of the main components of Chairman Tim Kaine’s economic blueprint focuses on higher education and the need to build a “talent economy.”  However, one can easily question the sincerity of Kaine’s education proposal by taking a glimpse at his record as governor.

If Chairman Kaine wanted to make investment in higher education a top priority why did funding for higher education decline 25 percent and tuition increase during his tenure in the Governor’s Mansion?  While states across the nation were forced to make cuts to education in response to the economic downturn which in turn drove tuition costs up, tuition for Virginia’s four-year colleges increased substantially more than most state’s.  During this period the national average for tuition increased 23 percent for 4-year colleges, while in Virginia the increase was 31.2 percent. 

Kaine’s tenure as governor was marked by irresponsible budgets that increased spending when the economic forecast was grim.  One newspaper called his 2008 budget a “$77 billion behemoth fashioned against the backdrop of a possible recession.”  When the recession hit, Virginia’s budget shortfalls got bigger and bigger.  From an initial shortfall estimated at $300 million which Kaine dismissed as “not a huge emergency,” to a massive $4.2 billion.  Kaine looked to higher education to bridge the gap, and told Virginia’s colleges and universities to cut their budgets which one college president called “devastating.”  Then, colleges had to raise tuition.  Kaine even proposed transferring $19 million from Virginia’s public schools to the general fund. 

Virginia’s colleges and universities took an especially hard hit during the recession because Tim Kaine did not listen to people calling for fiscal restraint.  Now Kaine wants to focus on improving higher education even though his fiscal irresponsibility made a college education unavailable for many Virginians.  Kaine’s “talent economy” would have had a head start five years ago if he had exercised better judgment. 



Kaine’s Three Pronged Economic Plan Included Reforming Education.  “The three-pronged plan includes reforming education; investing in infrastructure, such as roads and airports; and a combination of cuts and spending to help close the federal deficit and pay down the national debt.” (Anita Kumar and Ben Pershing, “Kaine Hits The Road To Tout Economic Plan,” The Washington Post, 4/4/12)


Kaine Noted The Importance Of Higher Education And College Access In His Economic Plan. Virginia’s higher education system has been the key contributor to our efforts to build a Talent Economy…We must have an equally robust effort to expand college access and degree attainment across the nation.” (Kaine For Virginia Website, www.kaineforva.com, Accessed 4/5/12)


At An Event On The Economy, Kaine Said There Needed To Be “More Work On College Affordability.” “Kaine and Warner fielded questions about budget cuts and corruption but stressed the need to build a talent-based economy.  ‘Whether it’s early childhood education, smart thinking about how ‘No Child Left Behind’ can be revised or reauthorized, more work on college affordability so it’s not so expensive or — a passion of mine — broader career and technical education . . . the driving force is we’ve got be the most talented place on Earth,’ Kaine said.” (Anita Kumar and Ben Pershing, “Kaine Hits The Road To Tout Economic Plan,” The Washington Post, 4/4/12)


The Virginia GOP Released A Statement In February 2012 Noting That Kaine Reduced Higher Education Funding 25 Percent Forcing Tuition Hikes.  “The Republican Party of Virginia sent out a prepared statement by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William on Feb. 22, saying if Kaine was serious about developing a talent-based economy ‘he wouldn’t have reduced higher education funding by 25 percent when he was governor, driving up tuition costs and making college less affordable for Virginia families and students.’” (PolitiFact Virginia, “GOP says Tim Kaine Cut Colleges By 25 Percent,” www.politifact.com, Accessed 4/5/12)


  • According To The Department Of Education Tuition Rose 23 Percent Nationwide For 4-Year Colleges, In Virginia 4-Year College Tuition Rose 31.2 Percent.  “Sure enough, tuition did go up during Kaine’s term. The average costs for in-state tuition and instructional fees at four-year institutions — not including room and board — rose from $3,812 in the 2005-2006 school year to $5,003 in 2009-2010. That’s a 31.2 percent increase… Virginia’s experience was not unique; tuition and fees for in-state students at four-year public universities rose across the nation during Kaine’s term. The U.S. Department of Education said the national average increased by 23 percent during that span, the College Board says they rose by 29 percent.” (PolitiFact Virginia, “GOP says Tim Kaine Cut Colleges By 25 Percent,” www.politifact.com, Accessed 4/5/12)


  • “We Rate Lingamfelter’s Statement Mostly True.” (PolitiFact Virginia, “GOP says Tim Kaine Cut Colleges By 25 Percent,” www.politifact.com, Accessed 4/5/12)


Despite Repeated Projections Of Low Revenue Growth, Kaine Said The Projected $300 Million State Budget Shortfall Was “Not A Huge Emergency.” “A projected $300 million state budget shortfall this year is ‘not a huge emergency’ and should not force cuts to government services unless the national economy weakens, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Tuesday.” (“Kaine Says Shortfall Won’t Force Cuts,” The Virginian-Pilot, 5/30/07)


While Virginia Faced A Two-Year Shortfall Of $641 Million, Kaine’s Remedy For The Budget Was A 5% Spending Cut For State Agencies And A Possible Dip Into The Rainy-Day Fund. “Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s remedy for Virginia’s battered budget is a 5 percent spending cut for state agencies and a possible dip into the rainy-day fund. With housing sales down – and dragging with them a slew of tax revenue – Virginia is facing a cash shortfall of $641 million.” (Pamela Stallsmith and Jeff E. Shapiro, “Kaine Urges Cuts In State Spending,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/21/07)


“Kaine’s Budget Cuts Return Virginia To The Oh-So-Familiar Pattern Of Reducing State Funding For Colleges Every Time State Revenues Fail To Grow As Fast As Anticipated.” (“Here We Go Again,” [Newport News] Daily Press, 10/14/07)


  • “Kaine’s Decision To Take A Disproportionate Share Of The Money He Now Needs Out Of Colleges’ Budgets Comes At A Bad Time.” (“Here We Go Again,” [Newport News] Daily Press, 10/14/07)


  • Kaine Asked Public Colleges To Reduce Spending By An Average Of 5 Percent. “Kaine told the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia that he won’t resort to across-the-board cuts to offset a $641 million shortfall in the state’s two-year budget, even though he has asked state agencies — including public colleges — to prepare reduction plans averaging 5 percent. Virginia Tech has been asked to reduce its budget for the current fiscal year by about $14.8 million, which amounts to about 5.3 percent of its state support. Radford University has been asked to cut $2.4 million from its operating budget, about 5 percent of which it receives from the state’s general fund.” (Michael Sluss, “Kaine: Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Colleges,” The Roanoke Times, 9/12/07)


In February 2008, In Order To Cover An Additional $1.4 Billion Projected Budget Shortfall For The Remainder Of The Fiscal Year, Kaine Proposed A Number Of Budget Cuts. “Gov. Timothy M. Kaine asked the General Assembly on Tuesday to cut off state aid for public school construction and scale back a proposed pay raise for teachers to help the state overcome an additional budget shortfall of $1.4 billion projected over the next 2½ years. Local governments would lose state funding under Kaine’s proposal, as would some of the governor’s favored initiatives. (Warren Fiske, “Kaine Proposes Spending Cuts To Reduce Budget Deficit,” The Virginian-Pilot, 2/13/08)


The 2008 Budget Was A “$77 Billion Behemoth Fashioned Against The Backdrop Of A Possible Recession.” “Slathered through Virginia’s pending budget – a two-year, $77 billion behemoth fashioned against the backdrop of a possible recession – are taxpayer-bankrolled goodies sought by legislators for the folks back home.” (Jeff E. Schapiro, “Big Bucks Found In Small Print,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/20/08)


The Budget Shortfall Could Reach As High As $3.5 Billion, $1 Billion More Than Kaine Projected In October.  “The Senate Finance Committee of the Virginia General Assembly is projecting a budget shortfall of at least $3.2 billion for the 2008-10 biennial budget – an even bleaker projection than the $2.5 billion Gov. Timothy M. Kaine had forecast previously. And the shortfall in the $77 billion budget could reach as high as $3.5 billion if lawmakers retain an additional $350 million in high-priority, mandated programs approved last session, according to the committee’s report, ‘Fiscal Issues Facing the Commonwealth.’” (Jim Nolan, “Va. Shortfall Tops $3.2 Billion,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/21/08)


Kaine’s 2008 Proposal To Address The $2.9 Billion State Budget Shortfall: “Key cuts, savings and revenue increases in amendments to the 2008-2010 budget Gov. Timothy M. Kaine submitted to the General Assembly on Wednesday: Total Budget Shortfall: $2.9 billion…” (“Key Points Of Gov. Tim Kaine’s Budget Amendments,” The Associated Press, 12/18/08)


  • “Education: $340 million cut from non-teaching school support staff, approximately 13,000 positions affected statewide. $27.5 million eliminated in state school construction grants. $55 million in Lottery funds redirected from school construction to base instructional needs. $2 million from closing the Southwestern Mental Health Institute in Marion and Commonwealth Center of Adolescents and Children in Staunton. $6 million from eliminating the eminent scholars program at state colleges and universities. 15 percent reductions ordered to the base budgets of all state-supported colleges and universities except for the community colleges and Richard Bland College, where the reductions are only 10 percent.” (“Key Points Of Gov. Tim Kaine’s Budget Amendments,” The Associated Press, 12/18/08)


In February 2009, Kaine Announced That The State’s Budget Shortfall Had Increased From $2.9 Billion To $3.7 Billion. “In December, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine projected that Virginia faced a $2.9 billion budget shortfall. He increased that estimate to $3.7 billion on Monday based on much-lower-than-expected tax payments.” (Warren Fiske, “Stimulus Buffers Bad News,” The Virginian-Pilot, 2/17/09)


Kaine’s 2010 Budget Proposed An End To The State’s Car Tax And Replace It With A New 1 Percent Income Tax Surcharge To Close The $4.2 Billion Shortfall. “Gov. Tim Kaine handed state lawmakers a two-year budget proposal Friday that calls for a major change in tax policy and more deep spending cuts to offset a $4.2 billion shortfall, and his efforts drew sharp criticism from the Republican who will succeed him and from GOP legislators. With just four weeks remaining in his term, Kaine called for an end to the state’s car tax relief program and the complete abolition of the local personal property tax that localities levy on vehicles. Localities that eliminate the personal property tax instead would receive the proceeds from a new 1 percent income tax ‘surcharge’ that would generate $2 billion by the 2012 fiscal year.” (Michael Sluss, “Kaine Proposes Sweeping Changes,” The Roanoke Times, 12/19/09)


  • A Richmond Times-Dispatch Editorial Called Kaine’s Budget A “Shoddy Little Trick.” “Departing Gov. Tim Kaine’s shoddy little trick last week adds another item to the General Assembly’s to-do list: Fix the state budget process.” (Editorial, “Broken Process,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/22/09)



“Students At Virginia’s Public Colleges Will Face Tuition Increases And Larger Class Sizes As A Result Of Budget Cuts Proposed By Gov. Tim Kaine, College Presidents Told A House Of Delegates Committee Wednesday.” (Mike Sluss, “Brace For Tuition Increases, College Leaders Tell Lawmakers,” The Roanoke Times, 1/22/09)


  • “Kaine Has Cut Budgets At Four-Year Colleges By As Much As 7 Percent In The Current Fiscal Year And Has Proposed A 15 Percent Cut For The Fiscal Year That Begins July 1.” (Mike Sluss, “Brace For Tuition Increases, College Leaders Tell Lawmakers,” The Roanoke Times, 1/22/09)


Radford President, Penelope Kyle: “These Cuts Are Devastating…” (Mike Sluss, “Brace For Tuition Increases, College Leaders Tell Lawmakers,” The Roanoke Times, 1/22/09)


Daily Press: It Was Kaine’s Plan To Aim Budget Cuts At Colleges Because Schools Will Make Up For The Money By Raising Tuition And Fees. “It’s actually in the plan of Gov. Tim Kaine and the General Assembly: They know that if they aim their budget cuts at colleges, the schools will make up for the money they’re losing by raising tuition and fees.” (Editorial, “Good Cause, Wrong  Solution,” [Newport News] Daily Press, 2/16/09)


Daily Press: Cutting Higher Education “Amounts To Shunting Off The State’s Responsibility To Protect And Nurture” The Public Higher Education System. “It amounts to shunting off the state’s responsibility to protect and nurture our admirable system of public higher education, which is a legitimate and even necessary state obligation because higher education benefits Vrginia’s economy, its citizens and its quality of life.” (Editorial, “Good Cause, Wrong  Solution,” [Newport News] Daily Press, 2/16/09)


The General Assembly Adopted A Budget That Cut $360 Million From Health And Human Services And $253 Million From Public School Funding. “The general fund budget, which contains the state’s discretionary spending, totals $28.6 billion – $6 billion less than the previous budget passed two years ago. The general fund is only part of the state budget, which also includes federal money funneled to Virginia. The upcoming two-year spending package slices $360 million from health and human services and $253 million from public school funding – two of the biggest state expenses.” (Julian Walker, “Budget: Done Deal,” The Virginian-Pilot, 3/15/10)


 “Kaine’s Budget Would Reduce Total State Funding For Public Schools By $357 Million, Though Federal Stimulus Money Would Offset A Portion Of That Amount.” (Michael Sluss, “Kaine Proposes Sweeping Changes,” The Roanoke Times, 12/19/09)


Kaine Proposed A Budget Amendment To The 2010 Budget That Would Transfer $19 Million Of Projected Funds From Public Universities To The State. “A budget amendment proposed by former Virginia governor Tim Kaine would transfer $19 million of projected funds from public universities to the state if it passes. Kaine included as an amendment to his 2010-12 budget a proposal that would move money from student fees in the higher education auxiliary fund, which supports public universities, to the general fund, which supports the state’s various needs.” (Liana Byrne, “Budget Amendment Could Cost State Universities Millions,” Collegiate Times, 2/2/10)


  • The General Assembly Allowed State Colleges To Keep The $18.1 Million That Kaine Proposed Transferring To The General Fund. “Virginia’s new two-year budget would slash funding for public schools and health care programs, reduce aid to localities and increase some fees to offset a $4.2 billion shortfall, reflecting a fiscal crisis Gov. Bob McDonnell described as ‘the most difficult period of time in modern Virginia history.’ State colleges would get to keep the $18.1 million in fees that Kaine proposed transferring to the general fund.” (Michael Sluss, “Va. Slashes Pubic Services,” The Roanoke Times, 3/15/10)


Kaine’s Cut To Public Colleges And Universities All But Guaranteed Tuition Hikes. “Kaine’s budget proposal cut public school funding and slashed spending at state-supported colleges and universities. At the local level, Kaine said school divisions should limit the growth of support staffers and focus on folks in the classroom. State colleges that have already faced cuts in recent years lost big chunks of funding, all but guaranteeing tuition hikes to make up for the loss.” (Kimball Payne, “Public Can Weigh In On State Budget Today,” [Newport News] Daily Press, 1/7/10)