Update on Final Legislative Actions in VA, WV
While the first and second Legislative Report issues of the year are focused on gubernatorial budget proposals, several SREB states have already completed their 2019 regular legislative sessions — the first ones across the finish line being Virginia and West Virginia. Here is a brief summary of final actions in both states; we’ll have full write-ups on final actions in all 16 SREB states in coming blog posts and Legislative Report editions.
The General Assembly reconvened on April 3rd to consider gubernatorial recommendations and vetoes, but in late February legislators approved amendments to the second year of Virginia’s biennial budget (2019-20). The amendments include $72.8 million to enact a 2 percent teacher pay raise that takes effect September 1, which is in addition to the previously budgeted 3 percent increase that takes effect July 1. Legislators also provided $52.5 million to be allocated to state universities that do not raise tuition for 2019-20.
General funds for all levels of education in 2019-20 are up 1.9 percent over the originally appropriated amount to under $8.9 billion, including $6.5 billion in direct aid to public education, up 1 percent. Student financial aid receives $92.2 million, a 9.2 percent increase over the original amount.
Legislation approved by the Virginia General Assembly includes:
- HB 1732/SB 1215 require each district to provide annual training on safety procedures to all students, school faculty and staff.
- HB 1737/SB 1220 require school boards to involve local public safety officials in the development of crisis and emergency response plans.
- HB 2018/SB 1434 require the state Board of Education to review and revise the Career and Technical Education Work-Based Learning Guide.
- HB 2053/SB 1406 reduce the permitted maximum number of students per school counselor.
- HB 2123 allows school districts to enter into College and Career Access Pathways Partnerships with colleges and universities that offer a career and technical curriculum.
- HB 2140 requires school counselors to spend at least 80 percent of their time counseling students.
- HB 2217/SB 1419 allow the state Department of Education to establish a teacher microcredential program in STEM endorsement areas.
- HB 2609/SB 1130 require the state Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop minimum training standards for certification of school resource officers.
- SB 1433 requires VDOE to report the employment statistics of graduates of each teacher preparation program in the state.
Upon sine die adjournment of the regular legislative session in early March, legislators immediately convened in a special session to consider legislation “improving, modifying, and making efficiencies to the state’s public education system and employee compensation” and then went into recess; legislators have not yet determined when they will return to conclude the special session.
The statewide general budget approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor in West Virginia totals $4.6 billion, up 5.7 percent. Legislators provided just over $2 billion for K-12 education, up 1.5 percent, including $1.8 billion in state aid to schools, up 0.6 percent. This amount does not include funds for teacher salary increases; legislators intend to consider such increases during the special session.
State colleges and universities receive $282.2 million, up 8.6 percent. The $82.9 million for community and technical colleges is a 26.5 percent increase and includes $10 million to establish the WV Invests Grant Program established by Senate Bill 1 — a last-dollar-in scholarship for in-state students at community and technical colleges and at four-year state colleges and universities that offer associate degrees.
Other legislation passed in West Virginia includes:
- HB 2009 allows the creation of Innovation in Education schools that award mastery-based credit.
- HB 2541 requires schools to annually provide first aid and active shooter training to all school personnel and students.
- HB 2665 appropriates $105 million in general funds to the Public Employees Insurance Agency Rainy Day Fund and HB 3139 creates the fund.
- SB 267 requires the State Board of Education to implement a K-12 computer science curriculum.
More on final actions in these and other SREB states will be featured in future editions of Legislative Report.