NORFOLK, Va. - The president of the Virginia Education Association says he is outraged about a proposal to give a 3% raise to state employees, but not teachers.
"This is inexcusable. Ultimately, it's the students who pay the price," Jim Livingston wrote in a statement. He notes that many local areas gave raises to teachers after the state backed away from raises due to a budget shortfall, but says "what legislators are overlooking is that this creates an extreme cost for localities, already struggling with the loss of state revenue from revisions to state funding formulas."
Richmond Republican leaders proposed a budget that includes a 3% raise for state employees on Wednesday. The plan also includes raises for state police after more than 150 troopers left the force last year. Budget leaders said the raises would not apply to teachers because most areas chose to give them raises last year. Del. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) noted state employees and state police are entirely reliant on the General Assembly. "There will be unmet need that we will not address during this particular budget cycle because we've defined our priorities and we're going to fund those priorities," said Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta County).
Gov. Terry McAuliffe had previously proposed giving state employees a one-time bonus, but Republicans would like to see the raise restored. The state faces a more than $1 billion budget shortfall.
During an interview on Thursday, Gov. McAuliffe said he wants to work in a bipartisan way to give that raise, but continued saying, "I'm concerned about sending the message that teachers do not deserve a state raise as much as other employees."
Dr. Toney McNair, Jr. is Virginia's Teacher of the Year and says the plan doesn't make sense. "Our teachers should not have to work two or three jobs in addition to their positions in the classroom," he said. "That's almost criminal."
The final plan is still being worked out in Richmond.