JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -You often hear about the political divisions that spark debate at the State Capitol. Wednesday, there was a much different picture...one of bi-partisanship.
“This is the first bill," said Senate Education Chairman Dennis DeBar. "It’s a priority for us and we think it’s a good start.”
Senator DeBarr explains that Senate Bill 2001 would give teachers an across the board raise of 1,000 dollars. Those just starting out get a slightly higher bump of $1,110 which brings starting pay in the state up to $37,000.
“We understand that this probably is not enough but it’s a good start.”
There were a few questions but most who stood had the same request.
“I would like to be added as a co-author,” said several members.
“Is there anyone who would not like to be added as a co-author of this bill?" asked Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. "Seeing none...it is unanimous, Mr. Clerk.”
With that, all Senators had their names tacked onto the bill and it passed with unanimous consent. There was a standing ovation when the Hosemann announced its passage.
“I’ve never seen that before on education," said Sen. David Jordan-D. "But it made me feel good because this is something I’ve been crying for for years and years.”
Other Democrats say there’s a more cooperative spirit in the Senate this year.
“I don’t remember the last time we had a teacher pay raise bill in the first year of a term," noted Senate Education Committee Vice Chairman Sen. David Blount. "Last term, teachers had to wait till election year.”
Hosemann says it’s more than just a commitment to raising the pay.
“It also shows we respect what they do for us every day," explained Hosemann. "As you know, many times this has been contentious. This time, it’s not.”
It now goes to the House where the education chairman tells us he believes the proposal is reasonable and a good faith towards getting to or above the Southeastern average.
“Hopefully we’re on the same page and I believe we are," said Rep. Richard Bennett. "There may be some tweaks. but looking forward to working with chairmen on that end and coming up with a good solution.”