Hazard pay bonus for deputies lowered in final Va. budget bill

Posted on Aug 12, 2021

By CHARLES BOOTHE Bluefield Daily Telegraph Aug 12, 2021


RICHMOND, Va. — An amendment to Virginia’s biennial budget bill that would have given sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers a $5,000 hazard pay bonus was reduced to $3,000 in the final version.

State Sen. Travis Hackworth, R-Tazewell County, submitted the amendment for the $5,000 last week and it was passed by a voice vote in the Senate. Gov. Ralph Northam had proposed a $1,000 bonus.

But a conference committee later reduced the $5,000 to $3,000, funding that will come from Virginia’s share of the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP).

Hackworth said he was disappointed in the change and joined other Republicans in opposing the state budget in the 2021 special session.

“I promised voters that I will always balance fighting for our region while also standing for our values,” he said. “The compromise necessary to support this bill would have forced me to support a slush fund for our Governor and Democrat majority to advance their progressive agenda with taxpayer dollars while exploring ways to take away our gun rights. While I am glad we made this bill slightly more palatable, I simply could not betray our values and region by supporting such a bill.”

Hackworth said in the end the overall budget was not acceptable.

“Even though we did get some wins out of the budget especially the Sheriffs bonus increase, ultimately there was too much bad for my taste,” he said.

Hackworth listed several particular spending items in the budget he opposes, including:

• $800 million discretionary fund for the Governor to spend without oversight.

• $2.5 million to fund a “Gun Violence Fund.”

• $4.5 million for “voter education” and expanding early voting on Sunday.

• Funding for special interest groups on monuments.

• Extending the eviction moratorium through June 30, 2022, “further placing hardship on landlords that depend on rental income to make their mortgage payments.

Under the passed budget, a committee must be formed and report back to the Virginia General Assembly by October 2021 on the Commonwealth’s law enforcement salary disparities.

But Tazewell County Southern District Supervisor Mike Hymes said the $3,000 bonus does not extend to locally funded deputies. The state pays the salaries for a majority of the positions, but not all.

“The bonus only goes to positions approved by the state compensation board which does not cover all our county deputies,” he said. “I plan to make the motion that we pay the 15 non-compensation board officers the same bonus out of our county ARP funds. This will be placed on the agenda for our September meeting.”

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

Original article @ https://www.bdtonline.com/news/local_news/hazard-pay-bonus-for-deputies-lowered-in-final-va-budget-bill/article_b6fa1c99-7257-58ab-9816-a558537927ef.html