Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Bleeding is Over/Very Modest Increases

The bleeding is over.  For the first time since the recession we are seeing very modest gains for elementary and secondary education.

In both the House and Senate, for the first time since 2007, incentive funds are proposed to raise teacher salaries by 2%.  It is very good news that funds are also proposed to raise the salaries for support personnel in our schools.  The underlying good news is the recognition that funding our schools is a state/local partnership.

While it is good that there are funds for the state share of a 2% match for school employees, one wonders why they got 1% less than everyone else.

We are thrilled to see the commitment from both House and Senate to an actuarial study of the state-wide health insurance option for local school divisions and local governments.  Funds for this have been included in past Senate budgets, but this is the first time we have seen a commitment from the House to move forward on this important policy decision, which promises to reduce the cost of health insurance for employees, localities, and the state.

The incentive grant funding ($30.5 million over 5 years) for school security is a meaningful reaction on the part of the House for the shared concerns we all have following the Sandy Hook tragedy.

We welcome the partial restoration, 9.65% in the Senate ($12.6 million) and 4.9% in the House ($6.1 million), of the Cost of Competing Adjustment for support personnel, and hope that the Senate position on this issue will prevail in conference.

We regret that both budgets divert General Fund revenue to transportation, and share the minority view in the Senate that Virginia should participate in Medicare expansion.

This is a broad-stroke, first-blush reaction.  Anticipate detailed analysis in the near future.