Public school teachers will remember the emails from then-candidate Tate Reeves that landed in their school inboxes shortly before last November’s election, promising that teacher pay raises would follow if they would help elect him governor.
This week, Gov. Reeves released his Executive Budget Recommendation for the coming fiscal year, and missing from it is any mention of a teacher pay raise. Not a penny more for our teachers. Instead, Reeves used his budget recommendation narrative to accuse teachers of “poisoning a generation,” saying that in our public schools “young children have suffered from indoctrination in far-left socialist teachings…” He proposes to rectify the harm he alleges by taking $3-million of current school funding and using it for a “Patriotic Education Fund.” In addition to shifting that $3-million, the “Supporting Quality K-12 Education” portion of his report recommends cutting the budget of any school district that does not provide in-person teaching during the pandemic. Overall, his recommendation is to reduce the already diminished state spending on pre-k through grade 12 by another $190,000.
Fortunately, it is the Legislature, not the governor, that decides the budget. Gov Reeves’ recommendation is just that – only a recommendation – and it typically is paid little attention by the Legislature. Last month, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, Senate Education Chair Dennis DeBar, and House Education Chair Richard Bennett spoke to members of The Parents’ Campaign and expressed a sincere hope that Mississippi’s revenue will allow passage of a teacher pay raise in the coming legislative session.