Today, the Mississippi House passed HB 530, the House version of the teacher pay plan, another step toward a historic salary increase for teachers.
House Education Chairman Richard Bennett gave a passionate speech in support of the pay raise, extolling the excellent work of Mississippi teachers and urging his colleagues to recognize their efforts with a significant boost in pay. In closing, Chairman Bennett said to cheers and applause, “I am very proud of this bill, and I’m proud of this body, because they have put education as a priority in the state of Mississippi, and today we’re going to show that.” The bill passed on a vote of 114 to 6.
The plan provides:
- minimum starting salary of $43,000, beating both the national and Southeastern averages
- annual step increases beginning in year 3, which vary within and among certification levels
- Class A (Bachelor’s degree) steps range from $135 to $495, based on years of experience
- Class AA (Master’s degree) steps range from $410 to $660, based on years of experience
- Class AAA (Specialist degree) steps range from $477 to $727, based on years of experience
- Class AAAA (Doctorate) steps are $794 annually
- retains current $2,500+ bumps for 25-year teachers
- average salary increase of $4,500
- $2,000 pay raise for teacher assistants
Please join me in thanking the 114 representatives who voted today for better teacher pay, as well as Chairman Richard Bennett, Education Vice Chair Kent McCarty, and Representatives Kevin Felsher and Jansen Owen for their work to craft the bill.
Unfortunately, the House also passed HB 531, a bill that eliminates the state income tax and jeopardizes teacher pay and school budgets in future years. The bill’s revenue changes are projected to cost the state $1.5-billion when fully implemented. The bill:
- eliminates 1/4 of General Fund revenue
- counts on unrealistically high revenue generated due to federal stimulus funds, which are one-time (not recurring) dollars
- could trigger massive budget cuts when federal stimulus funds are depleted
- could make teacher pay raise an unfunded mandate on public schools and cause teacher layoffs
The income tax elimination bill passed on a vote of 97 to 12. We are counting on the Senate to take a more deliberative approach to state revenue and ensure that public schools and other essential state services are protected.
We’ll keep you posted as we get more information on teacher pay and other legislation that affects the quality of our children’s education. Together, we’ve got this!