After many months of waiting through complicated and contentious negotiations, a state budget was finally signed into law on Thursday, September 14th! The budget includes some important investments in our public schools, including progress on items that we have been fighting for. This is thanks to the tireless work of advocates and families pressuring legislators over many months – including you!
Here’s a breakdown of budget items that impact public school funding:
More funding for support positions
The budget provides $152 million for staff positions covered by the support cap. The support cap is a limit on state funding for support staff that was imposed during the Great Recession and to the detriment of our students still hasn’t been removed. This investment doesn’t completely lift the support cap, but it’s a step in the right direction to ensure we have more positions funded for staff like school custodians, technology professionals, and front office staff.
2% raise for teachers and school staff
While this isn’t the 10.32% raise that would have been needed to bring Virginia’s teacher pay equal to the national average, it is a step in the right direction! This is also on top of a 5% increase in teacher pay that was passed last year.
$418 million in one-time flexible funding for school divisions
The intention of this funding is to address pandemic-related learning loss and to implement the Virginia Literacy Act. Funding is weighted to support low-income school divisions the most.
Protection of future revenue
Most of the permanent tax cuts originally proposed in the budget, which would have jeopardized the amount of state money available to fund schools in future years, did not pass as originally proposed. Many of those tax cuts would have disproportionately benefited corporations and the wealthiest Virginians. The compromise includes a one-time rebate and some smaller tax cuts, but ultimately protects the revenue needed to continue funding our public schools into the future. For a side-by-side comparison of the tax and budget proposals, see coalition member TCI’s comparison table.
If you’re interested in a more detailed breakdown of budget items that impact young people, including through public schools, you can check out this video from coalition member Voices for Virginia’s Children!
Many thanks to everyone who took action throughout the whole budget process to make all of these investments come to fruition! Our children, families, and school staff deserve fully and fairly funded schools, and we are now one step closer.