Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Review of the Proposed Budget Amendments to the 2018-2020 Biennial Budget

Hopefully you read the previous post so you know that during this session the General Assembly is only considering amendments to the adopted 2018-202 Biennial Budget. In order to understand the budget amendment proposals, you need to understand what is in the ADOPTED biennial budget. Here are some of the K-12 highlights from the biennial budget:

Salary Increase- State support for a 3% salary increase for all school employees that are funded through the Standards of Quality ($131 million). This increase is effective on July 1, 2019 and is for the full fiscal year. To offer flexibility to school divisions, they are eligible for the state funding if they give an average of a 3% salary increase over the course of the biennium. The current biennium covers the 2018-19 and the 2019-2020 school years. If your school division gives an average of a 3% salary increase between this school year and next school year, they will receive their share of state dollars for the increase.

Rebenchmarking to update the costs of the current SOQs ($477 million)- This appropriation is simply the updated costs of maintaining all the current programs funded by the state. This adds NO NEW PROGRAMS, it simply is an increase in state support to reflect the increase in costs. These dollars are "baked into" the amount of money each division receives in Direct Aid.

Increasing the At-Risk Add On ($7.1 million)- This is state funding is for programs to support students who meet the Federal definition of living in poverty. It is state money that is "added onto" the per pupil amount each school division receives. Every single division in the Commonwealth receives some At-Risk Add On money, but school divisions with high concentrations of poverty are the most positively impacted by this additional state funding.

***Again, everything above is in the adopted budget and there are no proposals on the table to decrease any of this funding. ***

Back to this session and the budget amendments that are being considered. Here is an overview of the key components adopted by the House and Senate. As you will see, they have real differences to work out in conference. If you don't know what that means, make sure you check out the first post of the day on the budget process:

The House of Delegates adopted key budget amendments to do the following:
Additional Salary Increase ($43.8 million)- This amendment is to fund an additional 2% increase (on top of the already adopted 3%) for 1/2 of FY2020. They added some flexibility language so that school divisions that can't afford the full 5% increase would still be eligible for state dollars so long as they gave increases over the course of the biennium. The VEA Budget Report explains all of this in detail and it is linked at the bottom of today's blog.

At-Risk Add On Funding ($0)- The House did not add any additional state funding to increase the at-risk add on over what is included in the biennial budget.

Increases the number of school counselors funded by the state ($35 million)- This proposal matches the Governor's proposal on permanent increases in state funding so that school divisions can hire more school counselors.

The Senate took some different approaches in their key budget amendments:
Additional Salary Increase ($87.6 million)- The Senate matches the Governor's proposal for an additional 2% (over the 3% in the adopted budget) in salary. This proposal is for a full year.

At-Risk Add On Funding (about $19 million)- This funding is to increase the amount of funding provided to school divisions for students who meet the Federal definition to levels ABOVE the adopted budget.

Changes to School Counselors  ($12.1 million )- This proposal decreases the counselor to student ratios somewhat, but not nearly to the extent the House version would. The Senate did include language to require school counselors spend 80% of their time on counseling duties (current requirement is 60%) but provided no funding mechanism to hire additional staff such as testing coordinators.

Want to know all the details and see where the VEA stands on the budget amendment  proposals being considered, please read the VEA's full report here.

As soon as the budget conferees are named, we will be putting out a cyberlobby action alert asking you to contact the conferees. Keep watching the VEA web site, facbook page, and twitter for that. A link to the action alert will also be included in this blog.