RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam released his budget proposal that will provide a $268 million increase for public education.
Education funding has been a long time issue for Virginia. The state is ranked 42nd in the country when it comes to funding.
Jim Livingston, president of the Virginia Education Association, says this increase wouldn’t completely fix the funding issue but it’s moving things in the right direction.
“The governor clearly has heard our message that we’ve be proclaiming that public education in the Commonwealth of Virginia is severely underfunded,” said Livingston.
$70 million will go to the At Risk Add-On programs throughout the state over the next two years.
Virginia’s average teacher salary is nearly $10,000 below the national average. $88 million will be used for a five percent teacher pay raise.
Lastly, the proposal includes an $80 million deposit into the state’s Literacy Fund. That allows districts to borrow money with a low interest rate for infrastructure repairs.
“I think there is going to be some opportunity there for school divisions like Richmond, as well as others, to modernize some of their facilities while at the same time be able to provide local money for those salary enhancements,” added Livingston. “This is really just the first step in moving to erase that under-funding gap.”
Governor Northam is set to share the details of his budget proposal to the Joint Money Committees on Dec. 18.