/Legislative leaders’ budget proposal puts off decision on teacher pay until session

Legislative leaders’ budget proposal puts off decision on teacher pay until session

“As we enter the legislative session, there are many decisions to make,” stated Lt. Governor. After Wednesday’s approval by the Legislative Budget Committee, Tate Reeves presented a $6.05 million state support budget proposal. “This is a beginning point.” However, Reeves stated that the proposal does not leave “the flexibility to satisfy the state’s needs.” Multiple leaders support a teacher raise for the next session. This will take place in January ahead of the November general election. Gov. Gov. The Legislative Budget Committee proposal left unallocated $159 millions in general fund revenue. There are also other unallocated resources, including $402 million in the rainy-day fund and $13.3 million idle cash balances. This amounts to $790.5 million. Reeves declared that Mississippi is in its best financial and fiscal position in history. But leadership would not be able to use the rainy-day funds unless it was necessary to address an emergency, such a recession. The governor’s budget proposal does not reduce funding for any agency, although many have had to absorb cuts of 10% or more in recent years due to revenue shortfalls. However, the Budget Committee proposes small cuts to all agencies. The Budget Committee’s proposal totals $62.9 million less that the $6.12 trillion appropriated during 2018 session for the current fiscal year. It ends June 30. Gunn and Reeves said that their proposal allows the Legislature flexibility to resolve key issues such as teacher pay increases at the end 2019 session, when they have more information about the state’s financial situation. Gunn stated that while he supports teacher pay increases, it is important to remember state employees. After Wednesday’s adoption, Gunn stated that if we give teachers a raise, we don’t have to forget about state employees. Since 2007, state employees have not received an all-encompassing raise. However, lawmakers have allowed agency directors greater flexibility to give raises to employees for multiple reasons such as meeting educational benchmarks. In fact, employees who earn less than $30,000 per year received a raise in the last five years. The average annual salary for Mississippi state employees is $37,911 annually, which is lower than the average of the rest of the contiguous States. The governor proposed a $25 million teacher raise. This would lead to a $781 all-around raise. Bryant stated that he would love to see a 2019 commitment to give another $25 million raise for the 2020 session. The budget of the governor does not include state employees. The Legislative Budget Committee’s and the governor’s budgets essentially fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program at $2.2Billion, which is about $250M less than full funding. MAEP covers the state’s portion of basic school district operations. January 8th, 2019, is the start of the 2019 legislative session.