The historic agreement to expand Medicaid was the centerpiece of the General Assembly session this year. But the recently passed budget has another important attraction — raises for teachers and state employees.
Teachers in Virginia will get a 3% raise. That’ll cost about $130 million. And state employees will get a 2% raise. That’ll cost $87 million. Lawmakers were able to go on a spending spree of sorts this year because the federal government will now be picking up the tab for $400 million of health care currently paid for by the state.
Republican Speaker Kirk Cox helped craft the deal.
“As a 30-year school teacher, I just think that school teachers deserve a raise. We’re going to have to have that to solve the teacher shortage. So a 3% raise for teachers I thought was key. Our state employees are very valuable, the raise there for sheriff's deputies, etc.”
Teachers might feel like they’ve won the lottery because, in part, they have. The budget deal struck this week moves $75 million dollars of money that had been supplanted from lottery revenues back to education using a per pupil allocation.
Chris Duncombe at the Commonwealth Institute says it’s an end run around a budget shell game.
“Trying to get more toward the intent of the Lottery program to be a boost for schools rather than a way of kind of maneuvering dollars around the budget.”
The raises for teachers won’t kick in until next summer, and local school boards will have to approve matching funds before teachers will start seeing bigger paychecks.