Virginia budget could include pay raises for educators
WTOP's Hank Silverberg
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The legislative committees that write Virginia's budget _ House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee _ unveiled their competing versions of changes for the second year of the current two-year budget that funds state operations through June 2014.
_ Cumulative pay raises up to 3 percent in both budgets for state government employees, local constitutional officers and college faculty _ the first state raises since 2007.
_ State funding for 2 percent pay raises for public school teachers and support staff, but they're optional for localities willing to match the state's raise with 2 percent boosts of their own.
_ About $13.5 billion for kindergarten through high school, including the raises.
_ About $49 million, as the governor proposed, shifted from general fund sales tax revenues to the state transportation fund.
_ More than $200 million in water quality improvement bonds, nearly one-third of it to upgrade antiquated storm and sewerage systems in Richmond and Lynchburg.
_ House budget: A 14 percent increase in "waivers" allowing the intellectually disabled to move from state institutions to community-based care over levels in place as recently as last June _ from 8,771 waivers then to nearly 10,000 _ and a 25 percent increase in waivers for developmentally disabled people, from 716 waivers statewide in June to nearly 900 by the end of the budget biennium in June 2014. Senate: $7.7 million for additional waivers in both categories.
_ House budget: A five-year, $30 million fund to help schools buy equipment to enhance security after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting. Senate: $1 million for school resource officers grant program.
The full House and Senate will vote on their versions of the budget Thursday. A conference committee of about a half-dozen delegates and as many senators will then begin negotiations to reconcile differences in the two budgets. This year's 46-day General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn Feb. 23, but the adjournment deadline has meant little in recent years. Special rump legislative sessions have been necessary to finish budgets three out of the past eight years.
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