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Northam proposes more spending on housing, higher education

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in the WTOP studios Aug. 22, 2018, for "Ask the Governor." (WTOP/Sarah Gibson)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is set to unveil a full budget proposal that will include a hefty raise for teachers, an extra $21.6 million for affordable housing, and more funds for cleaning up Chesapeake Bay.

The Democratic governor highlighted parts of his forthcoming budget plans on Monday. He’ll present his full budget to the GOP-led General Assembly on Tuesday.

Northam has already previewed many of the plan’s highlights. His marquee initiative is to spend $88 million to boost a 3 percent pay raise for teachers scheduled to take effect July 1, kicking it up to 5 percent.

Northam wants to put $19 million in the state’s Housing Trust Fund, which is used to expand the supply of affordable housing. He’s also pushing to add $2.6 million to provide legal assistance to tenants facing eviction. The governor said several localities in Virginia have some of the highest eviction rates in the country.

The governor has also proposed hiring more school counselors, increasing access to high-speed internet connections in rural areas, and allocating $20 million in new spending to help Virginians pay for rent and tuition at public and private colleges and universities.

Republicans have expressed skepticism about the amount of new spending Northam has proposed.

Lawmakers will take up the budget proposal when the legislative session starts in January.

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