/Senate balks at $4,000 teacher pay raise passed by House, cite ‘other competing needs’

Senate balks at $4,000 teacher pay raise passed by House, cite ‘other competing needs’

Nonprofit Mississippi News Although the Mississippi House of Representatives took a bold stand on teacher pay increases, the final amount of money that teachers receive on their paychecks is likely to be determined behind closed doors. Monday’s House vote was 111-2 in favor of Senate Bill 2770, which is a teacher pay bill. Senate Bill 2770, a teacher pay bill, was passed 111-2. It would have given teachers an additional $500 per year for a total increase of $1,000. A Senate amendment included an amendment to allow for the payment of the funds in one check, in December. Monday’s House amendment changed everything by adding their own language to the bill and increasing the amount by amending Democrat Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville. Holland stated on the House floor, “In my humble opinion there is no group in this state that is more important than professional educators who teach our children or our grandchildren.” “So bah-humbug on $500 per year. “Y’all should be ashamed if they vote for it.” Holland’s amendment provides a $4,000 raise for public school teachers. It is paid out with $2,000 per year for two years. Although the amendment does not provide for a raise of assistant teachers who make $12,500 per year, the bill includes the original $1,000 increase. A first-year teacher who has a bachelor’s degree currently earns $34,390, without any district supplement. According to the annual report of the state superintendent, the average salary for public school teachers was $44,926, in 2017-18. Joyce Helmick, president of Mississippi Association of Educators, stated that it was clear that House members listen to their constituents and realize that an investment is made in Mississippi educators. “We hope their Senate colleagues follow their lead and show that they too are willing to work towards paying our teachers a salary that reflects their value.” The bill can be signed immediately by the governor if the Senate passes the bill without any changes. It is more likely that the bill will be sent to conference. This is where senators and representatives work out details behind closed doors. Gray Tollison (R-Oxford), Senate Education Chair, stated that the Senate would review the House proposal but noted other state needs. He said, “We need to consider other competing needs.” He stated that the Public Employees Retirement System needs $65 million and that he is considering a raise for state employees. He also stated that additional funding is needed for other agencies. Tollison stated that the final decision about a pay increase size will be made during the session’s last days, when the budget agreement between the House and Senate leaders is reached. Tollison stated that the Holland proposal would require $200 million to be fully implemented and enacted within two years. It would be the largest teacher raise since 2000, when the Legislature approved a $338million pay increase. However, that was only for a five-year period. This pay increase was intended to raise the average salary for Mississippi teachers to the Southeastern average. Although it was a substantial raise, teachers in other Southeastern states were also receiving increases during that time. The 2000 raise did not reach the required level to bring Mississippi’s average teacher salary. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today.