JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Senate voted Friday to increase teachers’ pay, days after the House approved a separate proposal.
The two Republican-controlled chambers and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves must agree on a single plan before teachers could see more money. Any raises would be likely to take effect July 1, when the new state budget year begins.
Senate Bill 2444 would provide an average increase of $4,700 over two years.
The bill passed 35-0, with 17 senators not voting because they were absent or out of the Senate chamber. The vote happened moments after Black senators walked out to protest an unrelated bill that would limit the way race may be discussed in schools, colleges and universities. A Republican senator made a procedural move to limit debate and call for a quick vote on the teacher pay bill.
On Jan. 12, the House voted 114-6 to pass a proposal which would provide raises of $4,000 to $6,000.
Mississippi has some of the lowest teacher salaries in the United States.
The average teacher salary in Mississippi during the 2019-20 academic year was $46,843, according to the Southern Regional Education Board. That lagged behind the average of $55,205 for teachers in the 16 states of the regional organization. The national average was $64,133.
The starting salary for a Mississippi teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $37,000 for the current school year, according to the state Department of Education. Teachers with advanced degrees and more experience are paid more.
Reeves has proposed giving teachers a $1,300 pay raise during the budget year that begins July 1, then $1,000 raises for each of the next two years.