Monday, February 22, 2016

Three Bills and the Budget

SB660

VEA initiated SB660, sponsored by Senator Favola, failed to report from the House Education Committee this morning on a voice vote.  This was a bill to ensure that nepotism and cronyism are not factors in the school board selection of hearing officers for dismissal hearings.  The motion was to table (NAY is a right vote).  Hands were raised, and here is how they voted:

NAYS-- LeMunyon, Yost, McClellan, Tyler, Bulova, Keam, Hester, Lindsey, Bagby--9.

YEAS-- Landes, Lingamfelter, Pogge, Massie, Greason, Bell, Richard P., Cole, Robinson, Yancey, Dudenhefer, Davis, Leftwich, LaRock, - 13.

SB360

A VEA supported bill carried by Senator Janet Howell, SB360, calls for the development of a model exit survey for teachers leaving the profession.  Survey data is needed to developed an informed approach to reducing teacher turnover in this era of teacher shortages.  The bill reported from House Education on a 21-Y 1-N vote and re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

HB131

Delegate Rob Bell’s HB131, the Tebow bill, passed the Senate today on a 23Y 17N vote.  The Governor vetoed this bill last session.  Will it await a similar fate?

More thoughts on the Budget

Bottom Line

If we look at direct aid to localities for our schools, the House comes in first ($39.7 million more than the Governor’s introduced budget), and the Senate comes in second ($27.6 million less that the Governor’s introduced budget.  There are $67.3 million reasons to prefer the House Bottom Line!

We prefer the House appropriation for public education.

Salary


When the Governor presented his budget with no salary increase for teachers in the first year of the budget (2016-17), we knew we would be in for an uphill battle.  We also know that 2% is not adequate to make Virginia’s teacher salary competitive in this time of teacher shortages.  However, the 2% offered in the Senate budget is far better than 0%.

Remember, the funds from the state go to your locality and provide funds to help your local school board as they make their decisions regarding teacher compensation in the coming year.

We offer special thanks to Senators Norment, Newman, Howell, Saslaw, Hanger and Ruff for making this happen.

Another welcome aspect of the Senate bill is that it treats all employee groups equally.  State employees and higher education faculty deserve raises, but fair is fair.
Unlike the House, the Senate provides funding for the 2% increase in the first year.  If revenues improve, we can seek to amend the budget next year to provide increases in the second year of the biennium.

We prefer the Senate Approach on Teacher Salaries.

The budget is complex, and we will continue our analysis with an eye to VRS, At-Risk Add-on funding,  and distribution methods.

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