/An even larger teacher pay raise appears to be on track in Mississippi Legislature

An even larger teacher pay raise appears to be on track in Mississippi Legislature

The proposed raise has increased from approximately $210 million to $246 millions in the early part of this year’s legislative sessions to $246 million. In a counter offer to Congress Wednesday, Senate negotiators added about $20 million. This was mostly to provide larger five-year “bumps” to experienced teachers. The Senate leaders accepted most of the House’s proposal, which included a one-year raise instead of two. At a conference on House Bill 530, Dennis DeBar, Senate Education Chairman, said that he would “let’s get this agreement knocked out” and could get it passed within the next day or so. Rep. Kent McCarty was part of the House delegation who met Wednesday with Senate leaders. He stated that they wanted to see the pay raise completed as soon as possible. We’ll just need to review the plan with our budget folks… We will respond quickly and act quickly. Let’s get it done!” Reps. Keven and Jansen Owen expressed optimism about a final agreement after meeting with senators. This potential agreement marks a rare moment of peace between the Senate and the House near the end a legislative session that was dominated by a standoff among the Republican leadership over tax cuts. The House would like to abolish the state personal income tax. Although the Senate proposes tax cuts, it says that the House plan is too risky in uncertain economic times. Speaker Philip Gunn threatened to block other spending and measures related to the income tax issue. This includes spending billions on federal pandemic stimulative spending. READ MORE: The Senate rejects a House offer to compromise teacher pay increases, while the House proposes a ‘compromise’ for teacher raises. Education advocates feared that the tax dispute would stall the teacher raise. The Senate pay raise bill was defeated by the House earlier in the session. After making modifications to preserve the pay increase, the Senate passed the House bill reluctantly. Antonio Castanon Luna (executive director of the Mississippi Association of Educators) stated that “we believe the Legislature has joined forces to deliver this.” “We are happy they are moving quickly,” Luna stated. Luna also said that more than 100 teachers visited the Capitol as part a previously scheduled conference. According to several metrics, Mississippi’s teacher salaries are among the lowest in the country. The state also has difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers. The most recent proposal would increase starting teacher salaries to $41,638, which is higher than the $39,754 average in the Southeast and $41,163 national averages. Teachers would see pay increases of $1,200 to $1.350 for every five years depending on their education and training, if the Senate approves Wednesday’s changes. During hearings this summer, Senate leaders stated that teachers believed such incentives would encourage teachers to stay in the profession. READ MORE: Senate vs. House: How does their teacher pay plans compare