RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A top Democrat in Virginia’s General Assembly says his party rejected a pay raise for sheriff’s deputies this year because of differing stances on gun control.
On Monday morning, Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced nine gun control bills. These proposals have prompted widespread opposition from sheriffs serving in more than one 100 so-called “Second Amendment Sanctuaries” across the Commonwealth. These localities pledged not to enforce “unconstitutional” restrictions on gun rights.
The failed budget amendment got attention after Republican Sen. Bill Stanley sounded off on social media late last week. The post had 20,000 shares as of Monday afternoon.
Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw declined to do an interview on Monday but confirmed the post was accurate.
“There’s no need to interview, I said it,” Saslaw told 8 News.
Republican Senator Ryan McDougle said he supported the budget amendment because departments are having a hard time recruiting and retaining employees with the existing pay scale.
“Particularly when we raise salaries for other agencies, like state police, it’s really important that sheriffs have the ability to keep pace so that they can get good, qualified individuals,” McDougle said.
Stanley’s amendment would’ve given sheriff’s deputies a three percent raise this year, costing the Commonwealth $9 million. For now, the Senate’s two-year budget plan includes a one-time bonus of $200 in 2020 and a three percent raise in 2021. The House’s version includes a one percent raise for 2020.
Stanley said it’s not too late for lawmakers to boost their investment. “We have the money, we should do it, we must do it,” he said.
Democrat Janet Howell, the chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, also declined to do an interview on Monday. When asked off-camera if the current budget could accommodate a three percent raise, she said, “There’s a lot of ways to cut a pie.”