Monday, April 7, 2014

No More Games

The Senate Finance Committee reported SB 5003, which includes a number of the amendments offered by Governor McAuliffe in his proposed budget.

If you remember, VEA sought state funding for a 6% salary increase this year, and Senator Puckett and Delegate Chafin carried our amendments.  Unfortunately, neither the Senate nor the House included any salary funding for public school employees in their respective budget bills.  The House offered a 1% increase beginning on July 1, 2015 in conference,  as the regular session ended, but the conferees could not agree on a budget.

When Governor McAuliffe introduced his budget bill, it included 2% for teachers and support personnel and the statewide health insurance option, but this bill was killed by the House Appropriations Committee.

Today the Senate Finance Committee reported its own budget bill (SB 5003).  The Senate included VEA’s top two priorities in their substitute, the 2% salary increase beginning on April 1, 2015, and the local school board option to participate in the state health plan.

The Senate bill includes Marketplace Virginia, which will close the health insurance coverage gap and provide health insurance coverage to hundreds of thousands of Virginian’s.
This bill reported on a strong bipartisan 11-3 vote.
The Senate will meet at 11 tomorrow, followed by a meeting of the House at 4.  One never knows for sure, but it is expected that the Senate will pass SB 5003, which will then be communicated to the House.

If the bill goes to conference, the difference between the ensuing conference and where things stood at the regular session’s end is that both chambers will have teacher and support salary funding on the table (1% House/2%Senate), and the Senate will have the statewide health insurance option on the table.  Thanks to your hard work, we are in a better position than we were when the regular session ended in a budget impasse.

Let’s hope the House will request a committee of conference tomorrow and end the games.