Sunday, February 19, 2012

Both Chambers Propose Modest Increases for Public Education: No Funds for Teacher Salaries

Despite modest adjustments in public education funding in both the House ($136 million and the Senate ($165 million), as Senator Norment noted “The general fund Direct Aid to Education appropriation for FY 2014 will remain below the levels in FY 2007.” These additional funds must be viewed in the context of the fact that funding to our schools has been cut by over $1.6 billion since 2008 (SOQ and other formulaic cuts).

While we are pleased that state employees and college faculty will see a salary increase, Virginia’s teachers desperately need the leadership of the General Assembly as Virginia’s teacher salary has fallen $7,083 behind the national average. The last time our teacher salary was this low as a percentage of the national average was 1964-65. No funds were allocated for the Teacher Salary Incentive Fund, and none have been provided since 2008.

The vote on the budget in the Senate Finance Committee was 9 to 6 passage. This straight party-line vote portends a deadlock on the Senate floor. The Lieutenant Governor is not empowered to vote on the budget and cannot break the tie.

The $29 million dollar gap in public education funding between the House and Senate is much narrower than what we saw with the Democrats controlled the Senate. Last year's gap was $106 million.