At the Statehouse: Week 7 (Finally!)
The 2023 General Assembly adjourned on Saturday, February 25th. During this session, things played out as predicted for a divided legislature where each party blocked efforts of the other party which resulted pretty much with the status quo as a result.
Regarding 4 Public Education’s priority bills, all the bills we opposed failed, but most of the bills we supported also failed with two exceptions:
A bill to increase mental health resources in K-12 went to conference but was ultimately passed by both of the chambers after the House amendment was rejected.
A bill that would have increased teacher compensation was amended by a House amendment to instead form a working group to study the feasibility of raising teacher compensation. Thus, even with a surplus budget and as Virginia struggles to fill positions, our legislature delays on raising pay for teachers.
The General Assembly adjourned without a budget agreement. The House and Senate budget proposals show quite different priorities. The House supports spending Virginia’s surplus revenue on Governor Youngkin’s proposed $1 billion in tax cuts for corporations and wealthy citizens, in addition to his $4 billion in tax cuts last year for the corporations and wealthy individuals. The House also supports a generous increase in funding for the Governor’s lab schools, even though the legislature (once again) voted down the bill for lab schools.
In contrast, the Senate budget proposes fully funding K-12 education and providing no more funding for lab schools. It is worth noting that a generous amount was earmarked for Lab Schools in last year’s budget although the bill on lab schools had been defeated. Only a portion of last year’s funding for lab schools has been spent so far.
Although the legislators left Richmond without reaching a resolution on the budget, they did pass a “skinny budget” as a stopgap that fixed the $201 million error made by Youngkin’s Department of Education this school year. The budget conferees will continue to work on the budget. When they reach a budget deal, the Governor is expected to call legislators back to a special session. At that time the budget will be finalized and the legislators will take up any bills that the Governor has vetoed.
Until that happens, “At the Statehouse” will be on a much needed hiatus.
Once again, we thank you for your support to help pass and defeat bills to ensure support and success of our students and educators.
Photo Credit: Skip Plitt - C'ville Photography, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons