Governor announces state salary increases

Published 9:44 am Friday, December 11, 2015

On Thursday morning, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that there will be a 2 percent salary increase for state employees and teachers in the new proposed budget. This is the first pay increase for state them to be included in a governor’s budget since 2008.

“Our state employees, professors, teachers and deputies are working hard to help build a new Virginia economy, and we are pleased to recognize their contributions with a well-deserved pay increase that will benefit thousands of Virginia families and their communities. My budget includes substantial investments in Virginia’s key resources, and our public servants are truly among our most valuable assets,” McAuliffe said.

Many local state employees are excited over the sound of this salary increase.

“It’s certainly encouraging that the governor has included the salary increase for teachers and deputies, and I’m optimistic that the state will be able to provide the funds and follow through,” Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson said.

Superintendent of Southampton County Public Schools Dr. Alvera Parrish stated, “As I looked at the article, of course it is really good and encouraging to hear the governor make this announcement. It’s good to hear that his thinking is in line with the work that teachers do. They are deserving of a pay increase. I think it will be great if it comes to fruition going forward.”

Superintendent of Franklin City Public Schools Dr. Willie Bell said, “I am always happy to see that our teachers are being recognized financially. I hope that future plans will bring teacher pay to national standards of other teachers and in alignment with other professions. The strong alignment is needed to retain and attract the best professionals to the profession of education.”

Franklin City Manager Randy Martin said, “It will affect a few of our city employees, but not many, just primarily our teachers. It’s good to see the governor recommending it, though. I join the superintendent in recognizing that the teachers need a raise.”

On the other hand, others are more skeptical of the idea after further reading into the text.

In the governor’s statement, it said the two-year budget plan includes $60.6 million for a 2 percent base pay increase for all state employees if the employees received an appropriate rating on their most recent performance evaluation; $83.3 million for the state’s share of a 2 percent salary increase for teachers and other instructional and support positions covered by the Standard of Quality; and $15.6 million for 2 percent pay increases for state-supported local employees – contingent on certification by the local city or county governing board.

“There are contingencies placed on the 2 percent increase. The state’s share doesn’t fully fund the 2 percent. We don’t know what that means for Isle of Wight County,” Director of Gifted Services and Media Relations for Isle of Wight County Public Schools Lynn Briggs said. “It’s also only for positions that are under the Standards of Quality. Those are minimum staffing requirements. We have positions in Isle of Wight County that aren’t under that standard.”

Briggs said an example of a position they have filled that is not under this standard is the principal’s position at Carrsville Elementary; under the Standard of Quality, they are not required to have a full-time principal, but they do.

Isle of Wight County Public Schools are hoping when the budget comes out later in December that more details on this two percent salary increase will be stated. Then, the school board and superintendent will be able to digest it over winter break and further discuss their stance in January.

The governor’s statement also said that these pay proposals in the budget plan are contingent on a stable revenue forecast for Fiscal Year 2018.

“It’s for a year,” Briggs continued, “If there isn’t stable or sufficient funding for the following year, then we either have to pay that difference or the employees will have to take a pay cut [after receiving an increase the previous year.]”

School systems do not have to accept this or be a part of this, as in previous years, local school systems have chose to opt out.

McAuliffe’s complete biennial budget will be released on Dec. 17 in Richmond.