SUFFOLK, Va. - A public hearing on the upcoming state budget drew a big crowd at ODU's Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center, with 100 people speaking on issues like guns and teacher pay.
Four lawmakers sat and listened while the public had a chance to weigh in on the budget. Lawmakers will pass a two-year budget during their upcoming session.
Guns continue to be the big talker, with dozens speaking about their opposition to any funding in support of gun bills proposed by Democrats.
"If you allow this funding, you're going to be letting down everybody, so choose wisely," said one speaker.
"This is not about gun safety, public safety, or whatever you want to call it," said another speaker. "It's about control of people based solely on a radical, political, extremist agenda."
Still, others believe lawmakers and the budget can help and address gun violence. "We know that as it has been proven gun safety laws save lives," said a representatives from Moms Demand Action. "What we're here advocating for today is some gun prevention programs."
Local teachers also came to speak, calling for more funding for education. They say Gov. Ralph Northam's budget proposal doesn't go far enough. It calls for a 3% percent raise for teachers, but not until next year.
They say also some schools are falling into disrepair and now the General Assembly needs to help. "Staff and students in our schools are dealing with literal life threatening conditions, including black mold, leaks, broken heat and air conditioning, and bacteria," an educator said.
The General Assembly session begins on Wednesday.