Kaine Moves to Sweeten Teacher Pay Raises

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has proposed a 4 percent raise for Virginia teachers next year. That's one percentage point more than departing Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) had recommended.

Warner submitted his budget in December, providing money for the state's share of a 3 percent teacher salary increase, effective Dec. 1.

This week, Kaine submitted an amendment to Warner's budget to give teachers the bigger raise, at a cost of $39.5 million over two years. That's on top of the $168 million Warner had included in his budget for the raises.

During his campaign for governor, Kaine promised to bring teacher salaries to the national average by the end of his term. According to figures maintained by the Virginia Education Association, teachers are paid an average of $47,750, or $2,057 less than the national average.

"This is an acknowledgment by Governor Kaine that we should do more to try to boost teacher pay to the national average," said Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall. He said the money for the raises could come from the state's healthy budget surplus.

Kaine did not touch Warner's recommendation that other state employees receive a 3 percent raise next year. He did, however, submit a $1.4 million amendment to give Virginia National Guardsmen who reenlist for two years a $2,000 bonus.

Transfer of Development Rights

The Senate Local Government Committee approved a bill yesterday aimed at giving localities a new tool to direct growth, one of a number of such bills making their way through the General Assembly.

Committee members approved Senate Bill 373, a measure to allow developers to transfer development rights from one area to another. That would allow local governments to help direct development toward parts of the county or city where facilities are adequate and away from rural, undeveloped areas.

The bill drew support from diverse interests, including the lobbyists for counties and cities, the environmental community and home builders.

Chris Miller, an executive of the Piedmont Environment Council, said he supports the bill despite his group's long-standing concerns about sprawl. Mike Toalson, chief lobbyist for the Home Builders Association of Virginia, also backed it.

Toalson is under pressure to do something to deal with the popular sentiment that out-of-control growth is causing traffic congestion. In his statement, he said that "this is an effort on behalf of the home builders of Virginia that this might be one of the solutions" to the state's traffic congestion.

Agreement on the bill is an indication that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) might find some way to work with developers in his bid to offer more authority to local governments to slow development. Those bills have not been officially filed.

Staff writer Michael D. Shear contributed to this report.

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