Lawmakers take big step towards giving Mississippi teachers pay raise

The proposal passed in the House would pay new teachers $6,000 more and give all teachers a $4,000 raise
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 9:53 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Mississippi teachers are a big step closer to having more money in their pockets, with the state representatives taking action on a teacher pay raise.

“This is probably one of the most significant or historical piece of legislation’s that this body has taken up in many years or maybe ever,” said Rep. Richard Bennett.

Bennett from Long Beach is the Chairman of the House Education Committee. On Wednesday, he made his pitch on the house floor to reward educators for their hard work and moments later house members overwhelmingly agreed with him passing House Bill 530 by a vote of 114 to 6.

The bill increases starting teacher pay by $6,000 and gives all teachers a $4,000 raise.

“Sometimes I’ve wondered if this day would ever come,” said Bennett.

Mississippi is known for having below-average teacher pay, but this proposal would bring the state’s salaries up to a much more competitive level. Starting teachers would make $43,000 per year.

“We will be the leader now, we will be ahead of Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Florida,” said Bennett.

Executive director of the Mississippi education advocacy group Parent’s Campaign Nancy Loome, said a teacher pay raise is critical for boosting morale in the classroom.

“For the first time that I’m aware of we’ve had quite a few teachers across the state just throw in the towel in the middle of the school year and say I can’t do this anymore,” Loome said.

Giving every teacher in the state a raise isn’t cheap. It’s estimated to cost more than $200 million, a price Bennett believes Mississippi can afford for the long term.

“We’re not using one-time money for the pay raise,” said Bennett. “There’s a lot of money coming in from the federal government, that’s not the money we’re using for this. We’ll be using the money that we have and the growth we’ve had in the state of Mississippi.”

It’s not a done deal though, the Senate and Governor still have to sign off. The senators have their own plan that would increase teacher pay by an average of $4,700 over two years, but the starting pay would be about $3,000 less than the House proposal.

The bill passed in the house also includes a $2,000 pay increase for teacher assistants.

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