Mississippi teachers and teacher assistants will receive a pay increase this summer.
Legislators passed House Bill 852 on Thursday and it now heads to Gov. Tate Reeves to sign it into law. Reeves said he would sign any teacher pay raise legislation that was sent to him this year.
With the increase, teachers in Mississippi will receive a $1,000 pay raise, while newer teachers – those with less than three years of experience – will receive a $1,100 bump in salary. The state will spend around $51 million to make this happen. It will bring the Mississippi teacher average to $45,105 and more in line with other Deep South states.
All local lawmakers supported the bill including Republican Sen. Rita Potts Parks of Corinth and Republican Reps. Nick Bain of Corinth, Bubba Carpenter of Burnsville, Tracy Arnold of Booneville and Jody Steverson of Ripley.
“Our teachers are the lifeblood of our state and of our community,” Bain told the Daily Corinthian. “I have always supported paying them more and will continue to do so – we are not done, by a long shot.”
Parks also hopes more can be done down the road.
“I’m glad to have been apart of the process on this bill, but we always need to do more for our wonderful teachers across this state,” she said. “I am hopeful we can continue to raise the salaries to be competitive with our surrounding states so that we can retain our teachers.”
Another teacher pay raise was alive earlier in the session in a Senate bill, but after the Senate refused to take up Speaker of the House Philip Gunn’s income tax elimination bill, which included various teacher incentives, the House didn’t bring up the Senate bill prior to deadline. To ensure a standalone teacher pay raise would pass, the Senate voted on the simular HB 852 which is what the House agreed to on Thursday. Gunn’s tax bill is still alive as an amendment in a Senate bond bill.
Regardless of what happens with Gunn’s income tax elimination bill, more teacher incentives could come from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan which sent $1.78 billion to the state of Mississippi in coronavirus relief funds. Gunn said Thursday the session may be extended beyond the final day of April 4 to determined how to spend it.
(Capitol Connections by Daily Corinthian staff writer Zack Steen appears during the Mississippi Legislative session and includes news and notes from local lawmakers.)