Presidential Campaign

Tim Kaine: A progressive with results


Secretary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as the prospective VP is a boon for the progressive movement. Even while presiding over a divided state government, as well as an economy that required billions in budget cuts, Governor Kaine delivered results for Main Street through a simple management formula: he set bold, measurable goals and fostered collaborative relationships in order to achieve them.

He applied two policy instruments — transparency and innovation — in a way that few state leaders had anywhere in the country. By shining light on performance, Kaine demonstrated how a more open government could hold itself more accountable to its citizens. Further, his focus on innovation emboldened a wider circle of problem solvers, not constrained by budget battles.

{mosads}Governing magazine cited his signature open government initiative, Virginia Performs, when grading Virginia’s performance as one of the nation’s best-managed states in 2008.

Take infant mortality. At the start of his tenure, Virginia ranked in the bottom half of states in those statistics, with portions of the Commonwealth comparable to third world countries. This was especially true for African Americans. He set a goal to lower the rate to fewer than 7 deaths per thousand. He assembled a team of public health leaders, which drew upon all available evidence on what works, and then leveraged technology where appropriate. The team used an online social network and encouraged new care models that better used health IT. 

One program administered by the University of Virginia connected a community health center in a market with one of the highest preterm birth rates in the state to a high-risk OB/GYN at the academic medical center via telemedicine. That initiative cut preterm birth rates by 25 percent as more women gained access and participated in more intensive prenatal care. 

Progressives are particularly concerned about the need for fairness and equality. The Kaine Administration took on these issues in an unconventional, yet powerful way — by negotiating for greater transparency in sectors of the economy that are often overlooked.

One example was universal pre-K education, which is necessary to ensure every child is prepared for school. While battling the legislature over funding to boost enrollment by 40 percent, Kaine launched the Virginia Star Quality Initiative, an open data project — to make evidence-based quality measures more accessible. The public/private partnership inspired communities to fund the rigorous voluntary evaluation to help families pick the programs that would help children the most. 

To move towards providing universal broadband access to main street businesses, Kaine negotiated with the cable and telecom sector to provide unprecedented transparency on broadband availability down to the address level, which revealed the coverage gaps. Coupled with a new Broadband Infrastructure Loan Fund, businesses without access then had the tools to collaborate in their communities to attract internet service providers.

Finally, as we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Elizabeth Warren-inspired Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it is worth reflecting on Kaine’s record on economic fairness in an area that deserves greater attention –payday lending. To protect consumers from falling into a “debt trap” when they sign up for multiple loans, Kaine fought for new regulations requiring lenders to check an online database of individual payday loans to determine eligibility.

He also called for new ideas by fostering collaboration between state employees and a local credit union in a new “Virginia State Employee Loan Program.” Within its first year of operations, the VSELP gave employees a viable alternative to payday lending in order to meet short-term financial needs without undue risks of falling prey to predatory financial institutions. He championed the initiative in an op/ed shortly before leaving office.

I was already proud to support Hillary Clinton for President because she will build upon President Obama’s progress for an economy that works for everyone. Now, with Tim Kaine, she will expand upon a core tenet of Commonwealth, that we are better solving big problems by setting goals and working together to achieve them.

Chopra served as Virginia’s Secretary of Technology under then Governor Tim Kaine; he is the author of “Innovative State: How New Technologies will Transform Government” and the former U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill

Tags Democratic Party Elizabeth Warren equality fairness Hillary Clinton Philadelphia progressives Tim Kaine United States Veepstakes Virginia

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