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State lawmakers are scrambling to balance the budget following education accounting error


Senior members of the money committees and the House and Senate are working to fix a budgeting mistake that has lawmakers scrambling to balance the books.

A $200 million mistake in estimating basic aid for local school divisions has lawmakers buzzing, although House Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight says the accounting error has already been offset by new funding.

"No school division will have to reduce expenditures in the current fiscal year," Knight says. "Let me repeat. There will be no cuts this year. There is no crisis that will impact any of Virginia's students."

Democrats say it's no wonder that the Youngkin administration messed up the numbers because they're distracted by trying to change history standards or remove inherently divisive concepts from the classroom.

Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg is a Democrat from Henrico County who says even if all the funding is restored to the proposed budget, it still doesn't do enough for education.

"If you look at the proposed budget, there is nothing in it. We're not fully funding the literacy program, we're not adding school counselors," VanValkenburg says. "We're not doing teacher pay raises. We're not adding to the SOQs. We're not adding to the support cap. We’re not doing any of that."

More details about how the accounting error will be fixed will emerge this weekend, when the money committees will propose amendments to the budget on Sunday.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.