We need to build on what Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have already started here in Virginia - and what President Obama has the vision to advocate across the nation -- by investing in quality pre-K education for every child.
There's still a lot of room for reform. I strongly support the President's initiatives to expand charter schoolsthere's no reason Virginia should lag behind on this.
We should make changes that bring innovation and greater accountability to our schools. Changes that ensure our education dollars are being spent wisely and where most neededin the classroom.
We have a lot of work to do, but we can make sure every child in Virginia gets the strong public education they're entitled to.
We also need to increase teacher pay to at least the national average. We can't expect excellence if we aren't even willing to pay for average.
And we can't expect to solve the challenges of tomorrow, in energy and technology, if we continue to fall behind the rest of the world in math and science.
We need a Governor who will encourage our teachers to go into math and science education and who will pass a plan to forgive their student loans when those teachers agree to serve in the toughest schools in our most challenging school districts.
On the issue we're talking about today - education - my opponent talks about his support for schools, but he has a long record of opposing funding for public education, school construction and pre-K.And just a few weeks ago, my opponent put forward a transportation plan funded by taking at least $5.4 billion dollars away from public education over the next ten years, by his own estimates.
We can't afford that. We can't afford to take Virginia back.
Before Mark Warner took office, our nation was facing record prosperity. But here in Virginia, we faced a record budget shortfall. Our state government was crippled by ideological leadership that refused to work across party lines. Our triple-A bond rating, plenty of jobs, and the future of our Comonwealth were at stake.
But in the last seven years we found a different way of doing things. And that resulted in Virginia being repeatedly named the most business-friendly state over and overseven times since Tim Kaine took office. The best state to move your business to. The best state in which to raise a child.
One thing I know as I travel around the Commonwealth is this: Virginians don't want to go back. Virginia can't afford to go back. Virginians want and deserve to move our Commonwealth forward.
That is why I stand here tonight and ask for your continued support to build on that success as we prepare to sprint into the fall campaign.