February 23, 2006
Gov. Tim Kaine pledged Wednesday to "make sure the money is there" to start the New College Institute.
"The House and Senate have reduced (funds former Gov. Mark Warner asked for) but the nice thing is, I have a line-item veto and I get to amend everything," Kaine told about 150 people gathered at a transportation town hall meeting at Patrick Henry Community College.
"So I'm going to find dollars to make this thing go because I think it's very important. ... You start it and then watch it grow and I don't have any doubt that if we get it started it will grow," he added.
The House has proposed $1.2 million in each of the two years of the budget for the institute. The Senate has proposed $475,000 for the first year of the budget and $930,000 for the second year, for a total of $1.4 million.
Both figures are less than the $4.5 million earmarked by Warner for the New College.
Kaine said he understands some state senators have questioned that chamber's proposed funding.
"Some people in the Senate may have felt they made a mistake" after approving cuts for the college, he said.
However, he added, "Few people have reservations about the (college) plan."
Kaine said cuts for the "new Southside university" in the House were part of its attempt to find transportation money by cutting general fund programs, such as higher education.
"The House cut funding because they're taking money out of everything for transportation," Kaine said.
"We just have to make the case that for economic development, (Southside) needs better access to higher education," the governor said.
Kaine has been a long-time supporter of a Southside college.
"The New College is very important to me because I've listened to people in this region talk about challenges and access to public higher education is one of the challenges," he said. "I think the framework that we have in place that allows it to grow from an existing community college into a four-year college is a wonderful framework. You've got to make sure the dollars are there."
Barry Dorsey, executive director of the New College Institute Planning Commission, was pleased with Kaine's commitment to the college on Wednesday and at earlier meetings on the issue.
"It's nice to know the governor is there supporting" the institute. "I feel very confident he will do that," he said of providing funds for the New College.
Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Collinsville, who flew to Henry County from Richmond with Kaine for Wednesday's town hall meeting, agreed afterwards that Kaine "is committed to funding" the college.
During the meeting, Armstrong recognized Dorsey for his work.
"We think we have that (enabling) bill where we want it to make that college a reality here in the very near future," Armstrong added.
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