Thursday, March 10, 2016

Time to Thank Conferees for a Good Public Education Budget

The briefings on the conference reports on the budget bill were today, so we can go from speculation to hard facts in regard to the budget.  The budget bill now before the House and Senate has $73 million more for public education that the introduced budget.  Of that $73 million, $51.1 million was provided for the "teacher" increase for next year.  The 2% salary increase will begin in December 1.  Remember, "teacher" includes all SOQ positions, and that this funding will help your school board to provide raises.

The budget also fully funds the VRS Board Certified contribution rate to the teacher retirement fund in FY 18.  This is a year ahead of the scheduled transition to full funding agreed to in the 2012 session.

Governor McAuliffe’s initial budget set the mark fairly high.  Few who I talked to prior to the session anticipated that the Republican controlled legislative branch would provide more funding for public education than what he proposed, but that is just what happened.  We owe thanks to the budget conferees in the House (Delegates Cox and Greason) and Senate (Senators Newman, Howell, Norment and Hanger) who handled public education funding in the budget bill. We end up making significant progress in recovering the funding we lost in the Great Recession, but we still have a ways to go. 

It is my sincere hope that we are beginning an era in which support for public education is truly bipartisan.