JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Several big ticket items were on Tuesday’s budget recommendation for the upcoming legislative session, but one noticeably left out was funding for a teacher pay raise.
“It’s things like this, the legislative budget recommendation that is so discouraging to teachers that many of them say, ‘I’ve done as much as I can do and I’m going to leave,'” said Nancy Loome, executive director of Mississippi Parent’s Campaign.
Competitive salaries and sizeable investments have been long overdue in Mississippi.
“Our average salary across the whole entire teaching spectrum is about $8,300 less than the regional average, so we’ve got quite a ways to go,” said Kelly Riley, executive director of Mississippi Professional Educators.
However, the chairman of the Mississippi Senate Education Committee said he’s not concerned because leaders from both chambers have expressed support for teacher pay raises.
“Providing professional pay for our teachers continues to be a priority for this administration. Senate Education Chairman Dennis Debar has visited with teachers all over the state and is bringing a plan this legislative session which reflects their input during these listening sessions,” said Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann (R-Miss.)
As Speaker of the House Philip Gunn (R-Miss.) adamantly pushes to eliminate the income tax, the head of the Mississippi Parent’s campaign is fearful.
“We’re not going to get a significant teacher pay raise and be able to fund that into the future if we give away a third of our general fund in the way of an income tax cut. That is the biggest threat to a teacher pay raise,” said Loom.
Tuesday’s budget recommendation, chaired by Hosemann, also included $3.3 million to put more boots on the ground for Capitol Police, including 37 new positions and funding for equipment.