RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia Governor McAuliffe has announced that state employees, college faculty, teachers, sheriff's deputies and other public workers will be getting a two percent raise.
"Our state employees, professors, teachers and deputies are working hard to help build a new Virginia economy, and we are pleased to recognize their contributions with a well-deserved pay increase that will benefit thousands of Virginia families and their communities," said Governor McAuliffe. "My budget includes substantial investments in Virginia's key resources, and our public servants are truly among our most valuable assets."
This is the first pay increase included in the budget for state workers since 2008. The pay raises will go into effect midyear 2017, depending on a stable revenue forecast for fiscal year 2018.
The two-year budget plan calls for $60.6 million to go to state employees, $83.3 million to teachers, and $15.6 million to sheriff's deputies and other public workers.
However, groups like the Virginia Education Association (VEA) say it falls short and are hoping for more. The VEA and its chapters say the Commonwealth is trying to dig out of a deep hole when it comes to teacher pay, and it's becoming harder to attract and keep good teachers.
"I'm incredibly disappointed. Perhaps I would be more disappointed if I lived in Alaska and the Governor was promising me snow!" says Don Wilms, head of the Chester field Education Association. The group represents more than 7,000 teachers and staff who work in county schools.
He says the governor's two percent raise is a slap in the face. "The state of Virginia is spending in real dollars less than it did in 2009, but in inflation adjusted dollars, we're actually 14 percent down from what we spent in 2009." He says teachers are taking home less than they ever did, which is forcing many educators out of the classroom because they just can't afford to stay in that profession. "I don't know what's going to make people wake up," Wilms says. "At some point, something's got to give."
The VEA and its chapters are hoping this budget is just a starting point.
The governor will unveil his complete biennial budget on Dec. 17.
Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.