Union address, as prepared for delivery by Gov. Tim Kaine
of Virginia, Jan. 31, 2006:
My fellow Americans, good evening:
I'm Tim Kaine, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It's an honor to give the Democratic response to President Bush on behalf of my Commonwealth, my fellow Democratic governors and the Democratic Party.
I worked as a missionary in Honduras when I was a young man and I learned to measure my life by the difference I can make in someone else's life. Coretta Scott King embodied that value and tonight, as a nation, we mourn her passing. Our faith and values teach us that there is no higher calling than serving others.
The federal government should serve the American people. But that mission is frustrated by this Administration's poor choices and bad management. Families in the Gulf Coast see that as they wait to rebuild their lives. Americans who lose their jobs see that as they look to rebuild their careers. And our soldiers in Iraq see that as they try to rebuild a nation.
As Americans, we do great things when we work together. Some of our leaders in Washington seem to have forgotten that.
I want to offer some good news tonight—there is a better way.
In Virginia – and other states – we're moving ahead by focusing on service, competent management and results. It's all about bringing people together to find common sense solutions to our common problems. That's how Virginia earned the ranking of America's "Best Managed State."
No matter what political philosophy you hold, or what state you call home, you have a right to expect that your government can deliver results. When there's a crime or fire, you expect that police and firefighters have the tools to respond. When there's a natural disaster, you expect a well-managed response. When you send your children to school, you expect them to be prepared for success. And, you have a right to expect government to be fiscally responsible, pay the bills and live within its means.
Tonight, we heard the President again call to make his tax policies permanent, despite his Administration's failure to manage our staggering national debt. Over the past five years, we've gone from huge surpluses to massive deficits. No parent makes their child pay the mortgage. Why should we allow this Administration to pass down the bill for its reckless spending to our children and grandchildren?
There's a better way. Two years ago in Virginia, Democrats and Republicans worked together to reform our budget. By focusing on results, we were able to keep the budget balanced, preserve Virginia's strong credit rating, and protect the essential services families rely on: education, health care and law enforcement. States all across this country are doing the same thing, as the federal government falls further and further into debt.
Think about what's occurring in education. The Administration's No Child Left Behind Act is wreaking havoc on local school districts across the nation. Despite the insistence of Democrats in Congress that this program should be funded as promised, the Administration has opposed that funding and is refusing to let states try innovative alternatives. Now, the Republican leadership in Washington is cutting billions of dollars from the student loan programs that serve working families, helping get their children to college.
There's a better way. Last year, governors from across the country worked together in a bipartisan fashion to reform the last year of high school, making it serve our students better. Many states are working to make high quality Pre-Kindergarten accessible to every family. Congressional Democrats have a plan to educate 100,000 new engineers, scientist and mathematicians in the next four years. In Virginia, Democrats and Republicans worked together to make record investments in education. The results: more accredited schools and better student test scores.
Look at what's happening in health care. Skyrocketing costs are hurting small businesses and pushing millions of working Americans into the ranks of the uninsured. The White House has made efforts to cut Medicaid funds for our most vulnerable citizens. Seniors were promised that the new federal Medicare drug plan would make it easier and cheaper to obtain their medication. Instead, many are falling victim to the program's poor planning. They find getting their medicine to be more complex, more expensive, and less reliable.