Monday, January 23, 2012

VEA's Lobby Day Message

Here is the message our lobby day participants deliverd to their delegates and senators:

Summary of VEA’s top concerns in the 2012 Session

Broad Principles

 The VEA supports the Governor’s plan to fund VRS, but supports maintaining the defined benefit retirement system and maintenance of the current benefit structure.
 The VEA opposes the diversion of public funds via tax credits or vouchers to create the new entitlement of paying private school tuitions at the taxpayer’s expense.
 The VEA opposes the elimination of continuing contract.
 The VEA will oppose any measures that narrow the taxing authority of local governments or reduce the ability of local governments to fund public schools in this time of extreme fiscal stress.
 The VEA opposes the provisions in the Governor’s transportation plan to reduce the General Fund by over $110 million in the next biennium, and, consequently, take money away from public schools.
 The VEA calls upon the Governor and the General Assembly to give priority to restoring funding for public education if the February revenue forecast provides additional funding.
 The VEA supports efforts to return control of the school calendar to the local school boards.
 The VEA supports efforts to logically fund virtual education programs.
Budget Issues

Fully Funding the Standards of Quality

The introduced budget underfunds the Standards of Quality by over $300 million in the next biennium. The VEA supports fully funding the standards.

Teacher Salary

If the February revenue forecast provides sufficient funds, provide funding for the state share of a 4% salary increase ($146 million).

No salary incentive funding has been provided by the state for teachers since 2008.

The current estimate for the state's share of 1.0 percent increase is $36.5 million per year.

The last time DOE determined the cost of raising Virginia’s teacher salary to the national average they estimated the FY 2012 share of the state cost would be $544 million.

Based on 2008-09 data, the Virginia teacher salary average is now about 12 percent below the national teacher salary average.

Analysis of Statewide Health Insurance - $0.5 million (Feasibility Study)

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s (JLARC) December 2010 report on Use of Cooperative Procurement by Virginia School Divisions found that the “State could achieve savings by promoting more cooperative procurement use, and by consolidating school division health insurance plans.” The study asserted that, “Employee health insurance represents the area for greatest potential savings.”

JLARC said the savings would be substantial:

Although the amount of savings through such an arrangement is unknown without an actuarial analysis, three states that either recently implemented or considered implementing a statewide
public school health insurance plan estimated savings of between five and seven percent annually. Assuming Virginia would experience similar savings, between $47 million and $66 million would be saved annually (given $948 million in health insurance expenditures
in FY 2009).

In December of 2010, JLARC made the following recommendation:

Recommendation (1). The General Assembly may wish to direct that an actuarial analysis be conducted to determine the expected fiscal impact to the State, local school divisions, and other local jurisdictions of expanding the State employee health plan to include all public bodies in Virginia. The analysis should consider the impacts, if any, of the change upon State and local Standards of Quality costs for health insurance.