Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate, held a women's roundtable discussion today in Herndon at Zarca Interactive.
Zarca Interactive creates online survey software to help clients collect feedback and data. Kaine's discussion focused on the economy, small business, healthcare, insurance and education.
During the discussion, Kaine, a Democrat, said legislators should focus on issues they agree on and can engage each other in, rather than disagreeing and going in circles. "We don't need more wedge issues," he said.
One of the things Kaine said he'd like to focus on, if elected senator, is cultivating and keeping a talented workforce in Virginia.
One attendee said she hoped that more could be done to set up the state insurance exchanges soon to help provide more affordable insurance options to small businesses.
Kaine said he agreed on the importance of getting the exchanges operating. He said he came out of a small business family and managed a law firm of 130 employees. The worst day of the year as a business owner was always the day they would get the information on new insurance premiums, he noted.
Many Americans are just learning about the positive aspects of the Affordable Care Act, Kaine said. This year, 600,000 Virginia residents received rebate checks from their insurance companies because of ACA, he said.
Herndon business owner Pat Williams of Graceful Care said she is still concerned about the costs of childcare for single mothers. She said for many, it is still a challenge to make ends meet because of the cost.
One of the positive things Virginia has done for childcare in recent years, Kaine said, is to start a rating system, so parents can understand what kind of value they're getting from a provider.
He would like to continue to push for early childhood education for children ages 4 and older at public schools, which could both help the child and the single, working parent, he said.
The general fund budget for the Commonwealth of Virginia was lower when he left office than when he entered it, Kaine said, noting he still worked to invest more funding in early childhood education because he saw it as a worthwhile investment.
Another local business owner asked what could be done to help make sure the state is taking care of its aging population, especially seniors.
There needs to be a focus on the individual's needs, rather than in institutions, Kaine said. States tend to fund retirement homes and mental health institutions when they should be focusing on helping those people stay in their communities and helping them stay at home, he said.
Making sure seniors can "age in place" and stay at home as long as they'd like to could be more cost-effective than providing funding for the aging population at an institutional level, he said.
Though he's been campaigning for many months, Kaine said he's getting more excited for the election the closer it gets.
Kaine faces former governor and former U.S. senator, Republican George Allen on the ballot Nov. 6.