Update from the Capitol

Most of the bills we are following have been sent to conference, which means three members from each chamber will decide the final language of the legislation. Legislative leaders have indicated that their goal is to wrap up their work in the coming week and adjourn the 2024 session early.

Thank you for all of the calls you have made to your legislators so far – please don’t stop now! This is the most important part of the session, when final decisions on most bills are made, and your legislators need to know that you are paying attention and to hear from you how their votes will affect your children’s schools.                     

Please continue to reach out to them about these important bills:

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.

Find contact information for legislators here.
Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770
Speaker White: 601.359.3300
Lt. Gov. Hosemann: 601.359.3200

Our hope is that our legislators will demonstrate their commitment to the children and teachers in Mississippi’s public schools by investing in them the $250-million increase both chambers have acknowledged is available. Please give them a call and ask them to do so. Ask your friends and family to call, too. You can check our Bill Tracker for updates on the bills we are following. Together, we’ve got this!

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