There is still hope for generous raises for teachers and other budget priorities in Virginia, now that the state has more money with which to work.
In a letter to the Virginia General Assembly, Gov. Ralph Northam said strong sales tax collections over the Christmas holiday season strengthened the state’s tax revenue, resulting in a $730.2 million windfall over what was initially forecast from Dec. 2020.
Legislators have been working on a new two-year budget amid an anticipated $1 billion shortfall because of the pandemic — a gap which the additional revenue is expected to help close.
Spending priorities could include a 5% pay raise for teachers instead of the scheduled 3% salary increase, and more funding for schools as they resume in-person teaching.
“These additional dollars help us get back to that historic budget and allow us to move forward with our shared priorities — providing Virginia families and businesses the relief they need to get back on their feet, supporting public schools, and giving our public workers a pay raise,” Northam said in a news release Monday.
Northam will meet with budget planners later this week to further discuss spending priorities.