/Reeves Teacher pay raise, pension funding among 2019 priorities

Reeves Teacher pay raise, pension funding among 2019 priorities

The state revenue collections for December are $85.5million, which is 3.3 percent more than the amount collected in the same period last year. Reeves said that the Legislature wouldn’t “spend, waste, and spend” with the extra cash. He then stated that all state agencies would receive the same funding year-over-year and that the Legislature would also fund “specific needs.” Reeves was unable to answer three questions from reporters before leaving Monday’s luncheon sponsored by the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government. House Speaker Philip Gunn spent 30 minutes in December with reporters laying out his legislative goals. Pay raises for public school teachers Reeves spent 20 minutes bragging about the state’s education gains Monday and said that he intends to fulfill Gov. Phil Bryant’s budget request for public school teachers to receive pay increases over two years was granted. Reeves stated Monday that if we can agree, as the governor did with his budget proposal to increase salaries by $50 millions over the next 2 years, a teacher who was employed in 2012 will earn almost $8,000 per year more in 2020 than the year before I became lieutenant Governor.” The state needs to shore up its pension program. The Public Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees has announced that they will increase the employer contribution (governmental entities) from 15.75 percent of payroll starting July 1 to 17.40%. The increase is necessary to maintain the program’s financial viability, they say. The $75.2 million increase in state revenue would mean that agencies previously funded by the Legislature would have to pay an additional $75.2million. The state law provides that the increase will take effect regardless of whether or not the Legislature approves the additional funds. If the Legislature fails to act, agencies will be required to fund the increase from existing funds. This would be the equivalent of a reduction in their funding. Reeves stated Monday that he did not anticipate that PERS’ request would be fully funded. Give state employees a raise. Reeves suggested that the Legislature could increase state employees’ salaries, echoing Gunn’s suggestion in December, which said state employees should be considered for a raise. Although state employees have not received an all-encompassing raise since 2007, some, like those at the bottom, have been given raises. Reeves stated, “I look forward working with Speaker Gunn as well as our House colleagues to recognize those dedicated public servants who are deservingly of a raise.” Expand school choice options such as vouchers. In 2018, a Republican-led plan to expand a voucher program to allow students in public schools to go to private schools was abandoned. There has been speculation about whether Reeves or GOP leaders will push for a similar initiative in 2019. Reeves did not promise any action for this year but he acknowledged the possibility of renewed efforts in 2019. Reeves stated, “I will tell ya, I look forward to the day when those who support public education can put aside their partisan differences and recognize that our positive reforms work, and join us in achieving even more choice and accountability in our educational systems.” Additional school safety measures. Reeves suggested Monday, without going into too much detail that he would push for additional school safety measures. Reeves praised Bryant’s efforts in passing the bipartisan U.S. Congress criminal justice legislation in December. He suggested that Mississippi could improve its school safety laws. After many GOP leaders expressed support, a bill that would allow teachers in Mississippi to carry guns in class was killed last session. This year, a similar effort could still be pursued. Reeves stated, “I believe this year school safety will be an ongoing issue that the team will make progress in.” To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today.