Yesterday, the debate on the Assembly floor got heated as Republican Del. Dave Albo stood on the floor yelling and waving a photocopy of a bar chart that allegedly showed how they were increasing funding for public education in the budget.
But anytime a Republican tells you they're increasing funding for public education, read the fine print.
As it turns out, the Republicans are really cutting the legs out from under public education while bragging that they're buying it a new hat. Here's what the Republicans new benchmarking process does:
- Reduces the base level of benchmarking by $348 million
- Gets rid of the relationship between state funds and actual costs
- Reduces state funding of school secretaries, instructional assistants, and other clerical staff by over $78 million
- Reduces state funding for teacher salaries by $227 million
- Caps inflation provisions, which will reduce funding by over $20 million
- Removes the cap on the deduction for federal funding, reducing funding most for Virginia's poorest school
- Increases real estate taxes to make up for the difference in state funding
The Republicans are changing the way education costs are calculated. The state's public education money in Virginia is determined based on a complex process called "benchmarking" that is supposed to peg the education budget to what it actually costs to educate kids. This is a $348 million cut.
Republicans are changing the way that benchmarking is done, so that the education budget will have no relationship to the actual costs of educating kids in Virginia.
A stark example is the way the Republicans are putting a cap on the inflation provisions. While worries about inflation continue to rise, Virginia Republicans are setting the education budget pegged to the costs of education years ago, not the cost of education today.
Adding insult to injury, the Republican plan by cutting state funding for education based on federal funding. So, if the federal government gives money to a school district, the state takes it away. This means places like Petersburg, VA will get hit with a loss of $1.15 million in state education funding.
Check out this Google Map that shows the education funding cuts across the state.
Virginia Republicans are trying to hoodwink voters by telling them that they're going to provide a new deckchair every year, meanwhile hiding the fact that their new benchmarking is a huge iceberg that's going to sink public education.