With less than 30 days away from a state shutdown if a budget isn’t passed, the impasse has localities across the state nervous and concerned.
Counties and cities across the Commonwealth have passed their budgets. Now, they’re just waiting on state lawmakers. But as the state faces a $300 million shortfall – and with no sign of a compromise on expanding Medicaid – some local leaders are planning for the worst.
After much debate, Chesterfield County raised its property tax by one cent to help pay for more than 100 new teachers, but some supervisors didn’t expect to be sitting in June, still waiting for state lawmakers to pass a budget and let localities know how much they’d be getting.
Chesterfield supervisor Steve Elswick says the impasse has left localities in the dark. The biggest challenge facing the county is filling teacher positions.
“They need to be signing contracts and signing teachers for next year so that is really concerning for us because come September 2, we open up schools and we need teachers to open up those schools,” Elswick says.
Donald Wilms with the Chesterfield Education Association says he’s nervous when a budget is finally passed, the positions they fought to get, won’t be able to be fully funded.
“We worked really hard in Chesterfield, all parties,” he says. “The CEA… the PTA… to get those 111 new positions. I don’t know how we can be sure that we can have 111 new positions without knowing what the state funding’s going to be.”
Other concerns include sheriff’s deputies, court clerks and other state funded positions. Chesterfield and some other localities like Henrico are planning for the worst, but Elswick is hopeful it won’t come to that.
“This is the people’s government and the people’s business and they expect us and they elect us to do our job and to pass a budget and I’m optimistic that they’ll do that,” he says.
Richmond Councilman Charles Samuels says at least a budget wasn’t passed before the shortfall was announced because then localities would have been stuck figuring out where to make cuts.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond