HARRISONBURG, Va. — Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed, Harrisonburg Education Association President Andy Thompson and local leaders came together in Harrisonburg today to call on Governor Glenn Youngkin and legislative budget negotiators to prioritize Virginia children and their education, not corporations and the wealthiest Virginians.
“I strongly support the Senate budget because funding our schools should be a greater priority than tax giveaways for corporations and the wealthiest among us,” said Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed. “In these final weeks of budget negotiations, I’m calling on our representatives in both chambers to listen to what hardworking Virginians really want, and invest in our schools. That’s what we need here in Harrisonburg.”
The leaders highlighted a new report by The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis that shows the potential impact of budget decisions on schools in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. The Senate budget would mean $4.3 million for Harrisonburg City public schools, or $689 more per student. The increased funding under the Senate Plan would add 51 staffers to Harrisonburg City schools, including school staff like counselors, social workers and nurses. Rockingham County schools would receive an additional $5.8 million which breaks down to $524 per student. The funds would allow an additional 78 staff positions.
Together they called for passage of the Virginia Senate’s proposed budget, which makes a historic investment in schools and communities, rather than the House’s proposed budget, which gives tax handouts to big corporations and the wealthiest Virginians that would cost billions of dollars in the coming years, taking even more money from our schools.
“That billion dollars needs to come to your community, to our community,” said Harrisonburg Education Association President Andrew Thompson. “Harrisonburg faces so many challenges, above and beyond just education. We have language learners and refugees we need to integrate into our community and we can’t do that without the necessary resources.”
“As a teacher, all I want is for my students to reach their full potential,” said Jonathan Nateghi-Asli, retired educator. “The Senate budget proposal gives our communities ahistoric boost in state funding, along with additional strong investments in health care, higher education, and more.”
The House Republican budget isn’t just a one-time giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest among us. In the coming years, its cost would balloon to $1.5 billion for the next biennial budget, taking resources away from K-12 schools. It would also give corporations a lower tax rate than 86% of hardworking Virginia taxpayers, despite the fact that 64% of Virginia businesses pay zero in corporate income taxes. Leaders across the Valley know that a fair budget means stronger support for children. The tour has previously stopped in Virginia Beach, Leesburg, Henrico County and Newport News.