Bills in Conference Negotiations

With lots of bills in final negotiations, this is a critical time in the legislative session. Your legislators need to know that you are paying attention. Leave messages for senators and representatives at the Capitol switchboard: 601.359.3770. We’ll keep you posted on any major developments.
Bills we are following:
• HB 765, as it passed the Senate, allows the Mississippi Critical Teacher Shortage Act to remain as law by extending the repeal date, expands the Winter-Reed Teacher Loan Repayment Program, and authorizes a $1,000 across-the-board teacher pay raise. SUPPORT THE SENATE VERSION.
• HB 1229, as it passed the Senate, requires that, in order to receive ESA funds, private voucher schools must meet the statutory requirements of the ESA voucher program and report participating student data on AP and college admissions tests and graduation and college acceptance rates. The bill mandates that students be accepted by a qualifying voucher school before being added to the program’s waiting list. SUPPORT THE SENATE VERSION.
• HB 1618 revives the retired teachers bill, allowing retired teachers to work full time in critical shortage areas while receiving PERS benefits. The language was added to the Senate version of the PERS bill, which keeps the PERS board intact but limits unilateral board action and rescinds the 2% increase in the employer contribution. SUPPORT ALLOWING RETIRED TEACHERS TO RETURN TO THE CLASSROOM WHILE DRAWING PERS BENEFITS.
• HB 1823 is the public school appropriation bill. The Senate version provides a $206-million increase in MAEP funding and a $1,000 across-the-board teacher pay raise, with a total increase over current-year funding of $256-million. The House version of the bill provides a $250-million increase over current-year funding but appropriates it toward the INSPIRE Act, which has no objective formula for the base cost, keeps funding stagnant for the next three years, and has a weak inflation factor that would prevent overall school funding from keeping pace with rising expenses. Please urge your legislators to quickly hammer out details on education funding and send school districts their budgets.
• HB 1988, the Children’s Promise Act, as it passed the Senate, has no increase in tax credits for private schools. Conference has been invited on the bill so it very well could come back with millions more in state tax dollars to subsidize private schools, with some private schools eligible for more per student in state tax dollars than public schools receive. These schools are subject to no oversight, no audits, and no accountability. VOTE NO.
For updates, keep an eye on our bill tracker.

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