Education Spending is Also a Sticking Point of Budget Talks in Richmond

May 7, 2018

Credit Tim Taylor / Flickr

Lawmakers in Richmond are still haggling over the details of the budget, and talks have broken down over whether health insurance should be expanded to people who live in poverty or with disabilities. But, another part of the state’s budget is also a hot topic.

Much of Virginia’s economy may have recovered from the recession. But the school system has not. In other states, the per pupil spending stagnated for a few years then started going up. In Virginia, though, per pupil spending dropped then recovered slightly. But has remained essentially flat, and below the national average. Jim Livingston at the Virginia Education Association says public schools never really recovered from the recession, when lawmakers cut a billion dollars from school budgets.

“What people don’t realize, and frankly I don’t know that many legislators realize, that is a billion dollars year over year. So over the past decade K-12 education in Virginia has been cut $10 billion — that’s billion with a B.”

Chris Duncome at the Commonwealth Institute says recent years have seen proposals to put a bit more money back in public education.

“We’re still pretty far down when you look at per student funding. We’re about 10 percent below where we were per student in 2009 right now when you adjust for inflation.”

In the coming few weeks, lawmakers will consider a proposal to give teachers a two percent raise. That would be paid for with federal funds tied to expanding health insurance for people who live in poverty or with disability, although lawmakers are still arguing about whether they want to go down that road right now.

The VEA is a financial supporter of RADIO IQ.

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