Legislative session recap

The 2024 Virginia legislative session saw both progress and obstacles for efforts to fully fund Virginia’s public schools. 

After multiple budget proposals and many weeks of compromise, legislators passed and the governor signed a state budget that, while making important investments in our students, teachers, and school buildings, still falls short of our initial hopes. While some valuable legislation was passed, unfortunately, some of our priority legislation was vetoed by the governor. 

In our session recap below, we break down what happened this session and what it means for Virginia students and communities.


This year we supported a number of important pieces of legislation, including bills to increase support for community schools, support restorative justice practices, grant localities the freedom to levy an additional sales tax to support school construction if they choose to, and implement recommendations from the 2023 JLARC report on school funding.

All of these bills were passed by both chambers of the General Assembly, but unfortunately, bills supporting restorative justice practices and allowing localities to vote to enact a sales tax for school construction were vetoed by Governor Youngkin. However, a bill creating an Office of Community Schools to support community school development was signed into law.

Despite the setbacks caused by the governor’s veto, we made progress through legislation and even more through the budget. Additionally, we successfully blocked all legislative attempts to divert  public money to private schools through voucher and tax credit programs.

The governor’s proposed budget (December 2023)

In December 2023, the governor proposed a budget that failed to allocate sufficient public education funding to adequately meet the needs of our students. Despite some investments in mental health and reading specialists, the budget reduced state general funds for public K-12 education by nearly $300 million over two years. This came shortly after a JLARC report highlighting that the state is underfunding public schools by $4 billion and recommended crucial fixes.

If passed, the governor’s budget would have significantly impacted the state’s ability to provide high-quality education across all regions, with hundreds of millions less in state funding compared to fiscal year 2024. 

The conference budget (March 2024)

On March 7, 2024, school funding advocates celebrated a major victory with the bipartisan passage of the conference budget proposal through both chambers of the General Assembly. This budget included over $1 billion more for K-12 public schools than the governor’s initial proposal. Key investments included:

  • $1.15 billion increase in General Fund support for early childhood and public education.*
  • 3% annual raises for state-recognized school staff.
  • $371 million for at-risk students to reduce barriers for those from low-income families and high-poverty communities.
  • $72 million to additional instructors for English language learners, with tiered ratios based on language proficiency.
  • $4 million for training teachers on inclusive practices for students with disabilities and establishing regional parent support centers.
  • $10 million for literacy support and screening.
  • $5 million for Community Schools development and implementation grants, along with the creation of an Office of Community Schools within VDOE.

These proposed investments marked a significant step forward in ensuring every student, regardless of their neighborhood, could receive a high-quality education in the state of Virginia. After the conference budget passed the General Assembly it was sent to the governor’s desk to receive a signature, amendments, or veto.

*This figure represents combined General Fund support for Direct Aid for Public Education and the Department of Education Central Accounts. The final budget moved a number of early childhood programs from Central Accounts to Direct Aid.

Governor’s Vetoes and Amendments (April 2024)

At a critical point in the budget process, the governor’s amendments and vetoes drastically reduced education funding, withdrawing more than $600 million in state aid for school divisions. The conference budget aimed to improve education for all Virginia students; however, the governor’s revisions significantly cut these investments, undermining the opportunities for enhanced educational support.

  • The governor vetoed:
    • HB398 and SB586: Restorative justice bills.
    • HB805 and SB14: Bills allowing local sales tax for school construction.
  • Proposed cuts to the Conference budget: Over $600 million reduction in education funding:
    • $162 Million cut from at-risk student funding.
    • $47 Million cut from English Learner services.
    • $2.5 Million cut from the School Breakfast Program.
    • $5 Million cut from Community Schools.
    • $170 Million cut from digital services tax modernization.

These cuts represented a significant disinvestment from critical educational programs and services, affecting the most vulnerable students and undermining the efforts to create safer and more supportive school environments.

The final budget (May 2024)

The final budget, passed during a special legislative session, kept important investments, but also raised serious worries about the long-term financial stability of education funding in Virginia.

  • Retained Investments:
    • $370 Million for the At-Risk Add-On, benefitting schools in low-income areas.
    • 3% pay raise for school employees each year, totaling nearly $550 million.
    • $70 Million for English learner students.
    • $14 Million to offset reduction in local grocery taxes.

In total the final budget included over $1 billion more in public school funding than the governor’s proposed budget.

However, the removal of the digital sales tax and reliance on updated revenue estimates raised concerns about predictability and stability. Additionally, cuts to ongoing revenue sources and increased debt for infrastructure projects highlighted potential future funding challenges. The elimination of the digital sales tax resulted in a loss of $169 million earmarked for direct K-12 aid, disproportionately affecting high-poverty school divisions.

While the governor’s deep cuts to education funding removed over $600 million from the budget, public schools will see significant investments in classrooms and support for students facing the greatest barriers over the next two years. 

Fund Our Schools made substantial contributions during this legislative session, including organizing a well-attended lobby day and rally that showcased strong community support for public education. We plan to build on these efforts to ensure that every child in Virginia has access to a quality education, regardless of the neighborhood they live in.

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