VEA on General Assembly Budget: Some Plusses, Some Minuses
Dr. 詹姆斯J. Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association, released the following statement in response to the passage of the Conference Budget Report today by the General Assembly:
“This budget avoids the most harmful tax giveaways that were being considered. They would have permanently cut our state’s revenue to where it would have been difficult to ever fix our crumbling schools or get our teachers to the national teacher pay average. There are also some meaningful new investments in this budget, especially in the partial lifting of some Great Recession-era cuts. 然而, this keeps us around 2008 levels of state support per student, and much work remains for lawmakers in future budgets. We still need permanent funding to stem the teacher shortage, get mental health support into our schools, and provide the small group tutoring we know our students desperately need to catch up.”
Pay and shortages: Virginia teacher pay has wasted away to inflation over the past few years, and this year’s state investment of a 5% increase in the first half of the school year and a 7% increase in the second half still leaves us far behind pre-pandemic average levels of pay. We can’t begin to stem our teacher shortage and retain our best and brightest if we continue to pay our teachers less and less, moving further away from the national average. It would take around an 8% state increase next year to get to the national teacher pay average. On teacher pay, Dr. 詹姆斯J. Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association, said: “If we want our students to have highly qualified teachers in every classroom, we need bolder investments in the next budget to, 至少, get us to the national teacher pay average.”
支持限制: The budget gets us much closer to lifting the arbitrary and deeply harmful cap the state placed on school support staff during the budget shortfall following the Great Recession. An entire generation of students have now gone through their K-12 experience in Virginia living with less classroom and school support, and teachers are more burnt out than ever trying to fill in the gaps. Virtually everyone agrees this Great Recession era relic has to go, and we made meaningful progress this year. On lifting the Support Cap, Dr. 詹姆斯J. Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association, said: “Lawmakers must come together and finish the job next year to fully lift the cap on support positions.”
$418 million in flexible one-time support is a band-aid: The new flexible funding that remains available through June 2026 will help school divisions as their one-time federal pandemic relief dries up in September 2024. 然而, this funding likely will not be able to accomplish its goal of seriously attending to learning loss and new student needs. That’s because it’s only one-time, and school divisions are already having many challenges finding tutors and mental health staff willing to work on temporary contracts. On one-time funding, Dr. 詹姆斯J. Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association, said: “The limited nature of this one-time funding means it will only act as a band-aid. We must make long-term recurring investments in our schools in order to retain our status among the best ranked school systems in the country.”
税收政策: In addition to the $4 billion in tax cuts enacted last year, Republicans have continued the fight to build big tax giveaways for profitable corporations and wealthy individuals into the state budget. Democrats in the Senate have come to the table with a very different vision to use this funding to plug critical needs in our schools. This budget avoids the most harmful tax giveaways that would have permanently reduced state revenue to the degree that it would have been difficult to ever fix our crumbling school infrastructure or get our teachers to the national teacher pay average. We must stop placing profitable corporations over our children in our state budgets.