At the end of the last legislative session, Mississippi Association of Educators President Joyce Helmick began lobbying lawmakers to give teachers what she believes is a long overdue across the board pay hike.
”Seven long years we have not had a pay raise,” said Helmick. MAE represents some 8,000 teacher across the state.
"Educators across the state are not being compensated for what they do."
According to MAE, Mississippi teachers are the lowest paid in the Southeast.
Louisiana has the region's highest paid educators, making an average of more than 50,000 annually, compared to those in Tennessee, who take home more $46,600. Teachers here are on the bottom, earning an average of $41,600 each year.
Pay raise supporters say not only are Mississippi teachers behind their peers in other states, because of the great recession, many have seen their pay cut in the past few years.
Teachers do have one powerful supporter in the legislature. House Speaker Philip Gunn.
According to Gunn, the higher pay could be a done deal if they can find the millions of dollars needed to fund it.
"Revenues are up our economy is out pacing the national average…" Gunn says budget writers will know by March if the money is there.
"Lawmakers will find a way to pay our teachers more; they understand the high stakes,” said Helmick.
In addition to possible funding issues, Governor Bryant and Lt. Governor Reeves are against Gunn’s plan. They support merit pay, rewarding reward teachers based on their how they perform in the classroom.