Teachers, police, state workers in line for end-of-year bonus

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday that his budget will include a 1.5 percent -- one-time bonus for state employees.

McAuliffe will present his proposed budget Friday morning, but he gave a preview during WRVA’s “Ask the Governor” segment.

The measure will be a one-time bonus in December 2017 that will cost $130.6 million.

That will impact school teachers, state police, sheriff’s offices and other state employees.

McAuliffe said he will keep his promise to not make cuts to K-12 education, and instead focus on investing in education and workforce training.

He said currently, there are 37,000 tech jobs open around the Commonwealth, but not enough people to fill those jobs.

He said the state’s economy is moving in the right direction, but eventually he hoped to be able to give full-time pay raises for those state workers.

"But we still need to do something long-term to pay our great state employees. I know our state employees can go into private sector to make more money. They chose not to do that so they can give back to the communities. We need to respond in respect to that,” Gov. McAuliffe said.

While Virginia’s revenue shortfall prevented a permanent salary increase in the current budget, the Governor and his team have identified several sources of one-time funding in order to pay for the bonuses he announced Tuesday.

One of those sources will be in the form of a new state tax amnesty program, which will create a special grace period during which individuals and businesses can pay back taxes while avoiding fines and only paying half of the interest due.

The Governor's office said this program was expected to generate $59.4 million for the general fund. The program will be administered in fiscal year 2018.

Since 1990, three amnesty programs have been administered, with the last being held in 2009.

McAuliffe will meet with the General Assembly financial committees Friday morning to present his final budget proposal.

"We appreciate the Governor echoing one of the House's top priorities of employee compensation however; the devil is always in the details. As I have said before, the budget is like a puzzle and until we see all of the pieces, it is premature to comment on the Governor’s recommendations," House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) said. "We will need to look closely at how the Governor funds this one-time bonus, ensuring that it is consistent with past practice, especially as it relates to funding school teachers and state supported local employees which has always required a local match. The budget process is always about finding the right balance, and we look forward to receiving the Governor's full budget proposal on Friday."