Teacher Pay Raises Introduced: Guest column by Mississippi Center for Public Policy

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(Article written by Steve Wilson, Investigative Editor with Mississippi Center for Public Policy)

With this year’s session just a week old, the Mississippi Senate has already filed two bills that would increase teacher pay after the legislature passed one in last year’s session.

Senate Bill 2001, authored by state Sen. Dennis DeBar (R-Leakesville), would provide a 2.27 percent increase on average for teachers over the present pay scale or about a $1,000 hike for most teachers.

With Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann having already announced Senate chairmanships, the chamber has the advantage in getting legislation onto the calendar. The House will announce theirs this week.

With DeBar recently appointed as Senate Education Committee chairman, SB2001 could be headed to the floor as soon as next week.

The biggest increases would be for the lowest base pay scale, with those with one to four years of experience receiving a 3.09 percent pay hike, improving from $35,890 to $37,000 or a boost of $1,110.

Using the previous pay hike as a guide ($76.9 million for $1,500), this pay hike could cost taxpayers about $51.3 million annually.

Another bill, SB2024, authored by state Sen. David Jordan (D-Greenwood), would increase teacher pay to the Southeastern average. A starting teacher at the lowest certification level would have their pay increase from $35,890 to $40,000 by the 2023-2024 school year.

Teachers are paid according to their certification level and experience and districts can offer more than the base pay. Teachers also receive small annual increases in their base salary and bigger ones when they earn higher certification levels.

These bills are under consideration as the legislature tries to appropriate funds to cover the teacher pay hike from last year.

The Senate has referred a bill, House Bill 1, to the Senate Appropriation Committee that was passed by the House last week. The bill would provide a deficit appropriation of $18.5 million.

The legislature appropriated $58,442,743 in last year’s session based on calculations submitted by the MDE. Those original calculations said there were 31,157 teaching positions. The actual number was 40,991.

A raise passed by the legislature this year would mark the fourth pay hike for teachers since 2000. In 2000, a $337 million plan was enacted over a six-year span. In 2014, a two-year, $100 million plan passed by the legislature increased teacher pay $1,500 in the first year and $1,000 in second.

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