HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Driving through Virginia you can catch more than 200 different personalized license plates, recognizing everyone from animal lovers to veterans, but a delegate is trying to make sure one special job is highlighted too.
Cars rushed by on W. Broad Street in Henrico County on Wednesday morning, the day after Christmas.
“We have 100 delegates in Virginia and each one gets a license plate,” Del. John McGuire (R- District 56) said, pointing to the back of his blue pick-up truck. “Now, to tell you how I got number 91. We had about 15 freshman delegates last year so they put the last 15 numbers in a hat and I pulled out number 91.”
McGuire joined the House of Delegates last year. As a Navy veteran, he says people come up to him all of the time thanking him for his service.
“I always tell people there are many ways to serve,” McGuire said.
While there are plates for veterans and lawmakers, McGuire noticed one plate missing from the lineup. People in District 56 approached him about it too.
“I think about our teachers and they do a lot to prepare our young people for life,” he explained. “I think that teachers deserve a shout out and it’s a step in the right direction of better supporting our teachers.”
So, Del. McGuire teamed up with students and teachers at Louisa County Public Schools to design a “school bus yellow” license plate, with an apple, ruler and the words “Virginia Loves Teachers” on it.
The Department of Motor Vehicles still has to finalize the design.
Del. McGuire says it’s a special way to highlight educators and what they do for Virginia students.
“Teachers don’t exactly do it for the money. I mean, we’ve given them several pay raises in the General Assembly over the last 5 years, but they do it because they love our students,” he said.
The General Assembly approved a 3 percent bump in teacher pay in the budget that was signed in June. The increase is going into effect on July 1, 2019. Gov. Ralph Northam recently proposed a budget amendment to increase this by 2 percent, making it a total 5 percent raise. This addition still has to be approved by the legislature in the 2019 Session.
The license plate project needs at least 450 people to commit to buying the plates before it gets the green light. It’s about $10 a pop. So far, McGuire says about 100 people have pre-registered for the plates. The deadline to sign up is Jan. 8.
When talking to residents about the plates, McGuire says he’s seen “100 percent excitement.” He hopes Virginians, no matter their politics, can get behind this little way to say thank you to educators.
“There’s even parents, parents who have a favorite teacher who’s taken care of their children, they say they want to get one of those license plates,” McGuire said.