Thursday, December 18, 2014
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
- Faced with sluggish economy and sagging revenues, the state had a shortfall in the budget approved last Spring of almost $900 million. The Governor’s budget does not make any substantive cuts to K-12 over the biennium.
- Additional funding for education is minimal. The increases are:
- Add positions in Central Office for school improvement specialists: FY 2016 = $0.6 million
- Provide funds for training of principals in underperforming schools: FY 2016 = $0.7 million
- Provide money for expedited retakes for SOL tests and expand computer-adaptive SOL testing: FY 2016 = $0.9 mil
- Enhance school free breakfast program: FY 2016 = $0.5 million
- Reduce unfunded liability in teacher retirement fund: FY 2016 = $150 million
- Revive use of Literary Fund for school construction loans and subsidies: FY 2016 = $75 million.
- Some technical reductions were taken in PreK-12. The Governor’s staff stated that these would not impact funding to local schools.
- Enrollment growth is lower than anticipated, reducing state costs: FY 2015= $19.8 million and FY 2016 = $11 million
- The contribution to offset the unfunded liability in teacher retirement fund saves the state money and also saves localities as rates can be adjusted: FY 2016 = $10.4 million (state)
- Increases in sales tax revenue allows reduction in other state funds: FY 2015 = $2.4 million and FY 2016 = $3.6 million
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Thanks to our Governor, to Senators Stosch and Colgan, and to Delegate Chris Jones for these actions which will spare our schools from additional cuts.
But, let’s step back and ask a few questions. First, is this shortfall indicative of a tax structure in need of revision? It appears that our tax system lacks adequacy, reliability and (when one with an income of $18,000 pays that same rate as one with an income of $1 billion) fairness. When we are relying on the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget in a time of economic growth – something is wrong.
But, I wonder if we are avoiding what may be two significant variables. Virginia ranks 38th in state per-pupil support and 37th in teacher pay. As funds have been cut, classes have grown larger, elective courses have been eliminated, and after-school programs have been eliminated. We are doing very little to attract and retain the best teachers to our classrooms. Is the disinvestment in the education of the next generation and our failure to support the teaching profession beginning to take its toll?
Monday, August 18, 2014
And the Secretary of Defense has indicated, if no changes are made by 2016, an additional $50 billion in defense cuts will have to be made.
We all know of Northern Virginia’s economic reliance on the Department of Defense, and in Hampton Roads, military spending accounts for 42% of the area’s Gross Regional Product.
If I have learned anything after more than 40 years in business, it’s that you don’t sit idly by when your largest customer cuts spending. You get out there and hustle to find new sources of revenue so that you can keep your business healthy.
That is why we must work together to build and maintain the best public infrastructure system anywhere in the world, so that we can attract the next generation of jobs in cybersecurity, biosciences, data analytics, aerospace and other industries that are building the economy of tomorrow.
Whether it’s the Pentagon, a Fortune 500 company or a small business, when decision makers start looking for a new location, they look at which state offers the best public schools, the strongest transportation networks, the highest quality health care, the safest communities, and the cleanest environment.
These are all enormous strengths for Virginia that contribute to the quality of life that our families enjoy. But if we are going to out compete 49 other states and Build a New Virginia Economy, we cannot afford to be complacent.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
One House member, as he left the Capitol yesterday, shared his assessment that education had done well, as the $404.2 million for the rebenchmarking remained in the final budget. I guess it’s a matter of perspective, but we will still be running our schools on less than we had in 2009. Our average teacher salary is 37th in the nation, $7,456 behind the national average, and our state per-pupil funding for PreK-12 ranks 39th. We are the 10th wealthiest state in the nation, and our per-capita state and local taxes as a percent of personal income ranks 46th.
Senator Puckett’s resignation changed the balance of power in the Senate, and the Republicans reorganized the Senate last night. Click here to see the new Senate Committee assignments.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Both chambers adjourned with no future sessions scheduled. The Senate was told to be on 48 hour notice, and the House was told that they would next meet on the call of the Speaker.
The games continue, and there is no sign of progress on the budget.
What a mess!
Monday, April 7, 2014
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
On April 1, VEA President Meg Gruber was joined by Charlotte Hayer (Richmond), Kimberly Adams (Fairfax), and Don Wilm (Chesterfield) at the Senate Finance Committee to support Governor McAuliffe's budget proposal. I think you will find Meg's testimony most informative:
Colgan, Chairman Stosch, committee members, ladies and gentlemen – I am Meg
Gruber, President of the Virginia Education Association. I represent teachers
and support personnel in all 132 school divisions across Virginia.
Monday, March 24, 2014
House Republicans showed the first positive reaction, proposing state funding for a 1% salary increase on July 1, 2015. The cost of this increase in the biennial budget is $40.4 million.
In all, above and beyond the salary funding the Governor's amendments provide an additional $30 million for public education. We will be providing detailed analysis in the days ahead. The Governor's proposal is clearly the superior to the proposals of the House and Senate, but it will be a fight to gain passage of the Governor's amendments.
If any of you want to know the legislative process, here is what I think will happen. The House Appropriations Committee (HAC) took up the Governor's budget bill (HB 5003) this afternoon. Delegate Dance moved to report. Delegate Landes offered a substitute motion to pass the bill by indefinitely (PBI), and that motion carried. HAC then reported HB 5002, the bill that reflects the House position when the regular session ended. The committee votes were along party lines with the exception of Delegate Joannou, who voted with the Republicans. Presumably the Senate will adopt the Governor's bill (HB 5003), and when the House communicates HB 5002 to the Senate, the Senate will substitute HB 5003. The House will reject the Senate substitute and request a committee of conference. The conference will then begin anew, the difference will be that the Senate position will provide $89.6 million dollars more for public education than was in the introduced budget - thanks to Governor McAuliffe. Then the conferees will begin the work of trying to develop an acceptable compromise.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Although 2014 Session adjourned Sine Die, it did so without adopting a budget. Consequently, the Governor is calling for a special session beginning on March 24th.
Friday, March 7, 2014