- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Senate Dems wary of immigration politics
- Summer camp for 1 percenters: Sushi, limos and shopping at FAO Schwarz
- Colorado gun crackdown law found to be built on faulty data
- Hank Aaron steps to fundraising plate for Democrat Michelle Nunn
McDonnell proposes 2% teacher pay raise
But also seeks stricter evaluations
Question of the Day
RICHMOND — Gov. Bob McDonnell is seeking 2 percent pay raises for public school teachers — their first in five years — provided Virginia lawmakers next month also make it easier for administrators to dismiss teachers deemed incompetent based on performance appraisals.
The Republican governor announced Thursday he is budgeting nearly $59 million as the state's share of the raises in the midpoint revisions to the state government's two-year spending blueprint, which he will present Monday to the General Assembly.
Mr. McDonnell said the money will remain in the budget regardless of whether Congress and the White House are able to agree on deficit reductions and avoid a year-end "fiscal cliff" that could cripple Virginia's economy and similarly eat into state tax revenues.
Mr. McDonnell said raises for teachers, principals, teachers' aides, librarians and others are assured despite his announcement that he will reduce the official revenue estimate on which budgeted state spending is based.
"My two top priorities are K-12 education investment, support and reform, and secondly is transportation. Those are the two things that I think, if improved, will give Virginia excellence and opportunity," Mr. McDonnell said during a news conference. He was flanked by teachers, principals, elementary school children and a handful of legislators.
"We've made some changes in the budget. We've already ratcheted down revenue a little bit based on what we've heard from economists and on the fiscal cliff mess in Washington," he said.
The House's Republican majority leader, Delegate M. Kirkland Cox, said finding $59 million in a budget as austere as the one Mr. McDonnell has prepared was difficult.
"This is tough for this governor to come out with this kind of money in this budget," said Mr. Cox, a Colonial Heights Republican who retired this year after a 30-year teaching career and wields enormous clout in writing state budgets as the No. 2 ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Spending for his education package will be offset in part by savings and cuts recommended to him two weeks ago by state executive branch agency chiefs. The menu of cuts totals 4 percent, or nearly $132 million, Mr. McDonnell said.
Under Mr. McDonnell's proposals, local school divisions that want to provide pay raises for their teachers would have to provide a share of the 2 percent raises. The local match would be determined by a sliding scale based on something called the composite index, and would require affluent school divisions to pay a larger share than poorer ones.
But the raises are contingent on House and Senate approval of Mr. McDonnell's Education Fairness Act, which stretches the probationary period that rookie teachers would have to serve before being eligible for multiyear contracts from three years to five. It eases the definition for incompetence by subjecting a teacher to penalties up to dismissal as a result of one or more unsatisfactory performance appraisals. It also streamlines the grievance procedure for teachers who wish to appeal an unfavorable decision.
Virginia Education Association President Meg Gruber was dubious about the proposal, saying 2 percent isn't nearly enough to make up for years of privations that teachers have endured, and wary about the criteria the state would adopt for judging teacher performance.
"You have to carefully analyze the legislation to make sure that it's being — for lack of a better term — open and honest legislation, that we really understand what the nuances are," said Ms. Gruber, whose organization represents more than 60,000 public school teachers statewide.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Let it roll: D.C. Council hits Las Vegas on taxpayer's dime, leaves $14,000 tab
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq