RICHMOND, Va. (AP)- Virginia GOP House Speaker Kirk Cox says he plans to prioritize education spending if he’s still in power next year.

Cox announced Thursday that his goal is to see Virginia teacher pay catch up to the national average in four years. The speaker is a retired teacher and said he also wants another tuition freeze at state universities next year.

State lawmakers passed a budget earlier this year that boosted public school teacher pay and held college tuition flat.

Cox is leading Republicans in a tough election year. The GOP is trying to hold on to a slim majority in a state that’s increasingly voting for Democratic candidates.

Democrats slammed Cox’s announcement as election-year grandstanding and faulted him for not doing more in past years to address Virginia’s education funding problems.