Teacher pay raise bill passes Senate, now in hands of Appropriations Committee

Published 7:48 pm Thursday, January 30, 2020

New teachers with a bachelor’s degree and other qualifications would start at $37,000 a year under legislation passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee Thursday.

Senate Bill 2001 would raise the minimum statutory salaries for all teachers by $1,000 a year, except for teachers with a single “A” license, who would receive $1,110.  The legislation now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, who is on the Education Committee, supports the raise.

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“I just voted for a $1,000 across-the-board teacher and teacher assistant pay raise, with a commitment from the chair that this summer, work will be done on a more comprehensive and structured plan,” she said Thursday.

Beginning teachers will receive $1,110 to bring their starting salary to $37,000. The raise costs the state about $55 million and includes the school districts’ 17.4 percent PERS contribution.

The bill will be sent to the Appropriations Committee for consideration.

“We’ve got to make sure we have enough to pay for it, which we do. It must go through appropriations to be included in the budget,” she said.

Doty said legislators were fed a faulty number last year, which resulted in a smaller appropriation of funds than was needed.

“We only appropriated enough money for the number we were given,” she said.

That’s added to the $77 million that last year’s raise costs taxpayers, but still doesn’t bring Mississippi public school teachers to the salary they deserve to make.

Doty said Legislators are dependent on tax revenue.

“We hope the economy will keep chugging along,” she said.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said he supports and respects the move by the Senate to send a supportive message to public educators this year.

“The House had the leadership to begin resolving the $18.4 million deficit from last year’s teacher pay raise as soon as the 2020 Session started, and the Senate wanted to send a similar message to our public educators this year. The message is one of support and respect,” said. “I appreciate the leadership Chairman Dennis DeBar and Vice Chairman David Blount have shown working together on this important legislation.”

Hosemann and committee leadership support studying teacher pay once the session ends to review best practices in other states and develop a plan moving forward.

“We are facing a teacher shortage in many of our districts which is reaching a critical level.  Part of turning this dire situation around is monetary. Our teachers are doing some of the most important work in our State, and they deserve to be properly compensated for it,” DeBar said. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues in the House on this and other education issues.”