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Money for Education, Policing Get Attention in Budget Committee

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Between the coronavirus pandemic and increased attention on police brutality, Virginia lawmakers are trying to figure out how to distribute the state’s available resources.

Thursday, a number of Delegates went before a budget committee to make their case for how to spend and save in the age of COVID-19. 

The top-dollar proposal came from Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, who’s running for the Governor’s seat in 2021. She’s asking her colleagues to restore almost a half-billion dollars in K-12 spending that the legislature approved earlier this year but froze amidst the pandemic's economic downturn.  "One of the reasons that we are a number-one place to do business in this country is because we have such a skilled and educated workforce and we want to give, especially marginalized communities and schools, a leg up where we can."

Delegate Lee Carter suggested the state save money with a multimillion-dollar reduction in police spending.   He says law-enforcement officers are too often tasked with doing jobs that should be handled by professionals trained to handle situations that involve mental health crises or substance use disorder.  "Almost none of these problems are helped by the arrival of someone with a firearm and de facto or de jure authorization to act violently," Carter told the House Appropriations Committee.

His Republican colleague, Delegate Todd Gilbert, has filed an amendment to restore money for police, however he did not make a presentation to the committee.

Representatives from both sides of the aisle called for some form of paid sick leave and more resources for healthcare. 

***Editor's note: A previous version of this story mistakenly said Carroll Foy's proposal was for a half-million dollars.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.