The Virginia legislature's two money committees, working feverishly to outdo each other in this year's budget wars, have each come up with enough money to restore a considerable portion of the budget cuts for public education and the state payroll proposed by Gov. Charles S. Robb.
The Senate Finance Committee, acting first in a game of fiscal one-up-manship, approved a budget that would restore 70 percent of the $20 million that Robb deleted from public school spending for next year. It also proposed restoring $5 million to higher education and found funds for a 3 percent across-the-board increase in state employe salaries.
Under the Senate bill, faculty at state colleges and universities would get $6.2 million in raises--about 40 percent of the Robb cuts.
Moving at a slower pace but outdoing their Senate colleagues in generosity to public education, the House Appropriations Committee tonight restored the full amount of Robb's cuts in aid to public schools and proposed an additional $10.3 million for higher education.
The House budget also would give state employes more money--$30 million--to be handled through the state's assumption of employe contributions to the state retirement fund. That amounts to at least a 5 percent cash increase for employes, depending on their salaries.
Both budget bills will be debated Wednesday, with any differences to be resolved by a six-member conference committee.
Since the session began and Robb first proposed $175 million in budget cuts to offset a pending revenue shortfall, legislators have made money for education a priority. Topping the agendas in both houses was money for public schools to keep a promise made last year--by Robb and the legislature--for a 10 percent increase in salaries for teachers.
But the mystery was where the legislators would come up with the money in a budget that most admitted was strained to its limits. The answer was, from a variety of sources, some common to both houses, others not. The House committee, for instance, proposed an estimated $18.6 million in cuts in various programs; the Senate's cuts, spread through the budget, amounted to $19 million, although the Senate cut deeper into budgets for prisons.