Sen. Kaine talks proposed budget cuts, funding for museums

Local News

Senator Tim Kaine continued his trip across Central and Southwest Virginia Tuesday as he tries to figure out what to prioritize for the federal budget.

Kaine (D-Virginia) supports some of the president’s proposals, like certain increases in military spending, but he also has some concerns. In addition to talking Syria, tax reform and illegal immigration with WFXR News, he said he is worried about proposed cuts to funding for arts and cultural programs, which would include museums.

Sen. Kaine toured the Virginia Museum of Natural History Tuesday during his visit to Martinsville. He and the museum’s executive director said they are both concerned about the proposed cuts. 

“That funding could be a lifeline,” said Joe Kiper, executive director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Federal cuts could make it difficult for the museum to do things like collect more rock and mineral specimens, Kiper said.

“These threats would really be a threat to what we could do in the future, the services we offer to the community,” he said.

“This museum is a gem here, and it’s part of kind of the economic life of Martinsville-Henry,” Kaine said.

Cuts to museums and other arts and cultural centers could mean a hit to the local economy and education, Kaine said. Roughly one out of every five visitors to the museum are schoolchildren, he added.

“You’re not just weakening this institution, you’re weakening the ability of public school teachers to help their students master science SOLs,” Kaine said. 

Kaine said during his trip through the commonwealth, he has gained a greater appreciation for how budget decisions can have a ripple effect

“Everything in the budget sort of touches something else, so if you’re going to reduce a line item of funding in the budget, it’s not just a math problem,” Kaine said. “You have to ask, ‘OK, what are the consequences?'”

Sen. Kaine also stopped in Danville Tuesday to discuss workforce cuts and economic development.

On Wednesday, he continues his trip through Virginia, visiting Franklin County, Roanoke and Wytheville.

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