State budget committee may fund teacher raises

Public school teachers are likely to be included in a pay raise for state workers, sources said Monday night.

House and Senate budget negotiators are discussing a pay package for teachers, state classified employees and selected local officials, including deputy sheriffs.

It is still uncertain how large the proposed raise would be, but some expect the lawmakers to recommend a raise of about 2 percent, effective perhaps in December.

The Senate had proposed the 2 percent package, but the House recommended a 2.5 percent raise, excluding teachers.

The nine senior legislators — four from the Senate and five from the House — face a self-imposed deadline of midnight tonight to cut a deal on a host of issues ranging from the raises to increases in the average cost of booze at state liquor stores.

Progress in the talks has been slow, but most of the negotiators predicted that the different plans recommended by the House and the Senate should be resolved fairly easily.

Although specifics must still be worked out, it appears that the deal-makers want to recommend raising the average price of liquor by about 5 percent a bottle. Gov. Mark R. Warner had proposed a 2.6 percent boost, but the bigger increase would generate cash the negotiators want for their pet projects.

Michael Hardy is a staff writer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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