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Virginia public schools are waiting on state lawmakers for a budget deal

Virginia State Capitol{ } (7News)
Virginia State Capitol (7News)
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From Fairfax County to Loudoun County, Virginia’s local governments and towns are waiting on a state budget from Richmond to see how much money they’re going to get for the upcoming school year.

“Our local governments have to know what they're going to get in order for them to figure out how to budget, you know, what kind of raises they give people, how many people they can hire, whether they continue to continue certain programs or not,” said State Sen. Scott Surovell who represents Prince William and Fairfax Counties.

While counties like Fairfax are depending on Richmond for 20 percent of their school budget, other counties are expecting more.

“Fairfax and Arlington County get about 20% of the school budget from the state,” said Surovell. “Prince William gets about 50% because it has a lot less commercial real estate and its average family income is much lower than Arlington or Fairfax.”

The lawmakers leading the charge on budget negotiations are Fairfax County State Senate Democrat Janet Howell and Virginia Beach Republican Delegate Barry Knight.

“What I've been told by the, by the people who are negotiating the budget is that they're they've made some progress but things aren't final yet,” said Surovell. “I think they're hoping to make a big push the next week or two to finalize things.”

The hold-up on the state budget remains tax cuts.

Although Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s gas tax holiday was defeated by Democrats, Youngkin wants to cut taxes elsewhere --- which most Democrats oppose.

“Eliminating the grocery tax, and increasing the standard deduction and giving veterans a break and the largest tax rebate in the history of Virginia,” Gov. Youngkin told 7News in April. “We’ve got more than $14 billion more in the system than we thought. $5 billion can go to tax reduction, $9 billion can go into important investments in education, law enforcement, and the mental health industry. I know they are working on it and I'm asking them to work as fast as they can."

One area where Democrats and the governor are close to an agreement is teacher pay.

Democrats want to give teachers 10 percent pay raises statewide over the next two years while Republicans are proposing 8 percent pay raises.

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“We must act swiftly to address Virginia’s literacy crisis,” said Gov. Youngkin’s Secretary of Education in a recent column titled, Budget delays keep students, parents, and teachers in limbo. “The Virginia Literacy Act — signed into law by Youngkin and carried in the General Assembly by Del. Carrie Coyner, R-Chesterfield, and state Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth — is a game-changing bipartisan effort currently stuck in neutral until the budget passes.”

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