JACKSON, Mississippi (WLBT) – State lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill next month. But they’re still one step ahead of budget work, and their plans are sidelining a teacher pay hike that many expected to see.
Education groups like The Parents’ Campaign were caught off guard when a salary increase for teachers was not part of the recommendation of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
âI think it was important to include it in this recommendation, because they define the priorities of the legislature. And if this is your priority, why is it not included? Asked Nancy Loome, executive director of the Parents campaign.
In a statement Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said it was a priority for this administration. It also highlights the listening sessions organized by the president of the Senate for Education in the state to gather feedback from teachers.
âProviding professional compensation to our teachers continues to be a priority for this administration. Senate Education Speaker Dennis DeBar has visited teachers across the state and presents a plan for this legislative session that reflects their contribution during these listening sessions.
We checked with some lawmakers why they thought this was missing from the budget committee’s recommendation.
“We are entering this file in the next legislative session in 2022, with $ 4.4 billion in reserve funds available,” said Senator John Horhn, who sits on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. âThey are in several different parts. But it totals about $ 4.4 billion. The challenge we have with this is that it’s a lot of one-time money. And if you can manage to find a salary increase for teachers, you want to have a stable source of income from which to pay those salaries. “
Rep. Robert Johnson echoed those thoughtsâ¦ a concern that the surplus is âone-time moneyâ. Still, he notes.
âWe’re flushed,â Johnson said. “And so, to the extent that we have a surplus, we should definitely have teachers in this conversation about raising wages, because that’s an indication that our economy will continue to grow.”
And remember, the recommendation is just that, a recommendation, not a binding document. So it could still happen and Nancy Loome is hoping it will.
“I hope we see a really important bill that brings Mississippi to a point where we can really realize our potential,” Loome added.
The parents’ campaign is also raising a red flag that if the legislature again attempts to eliminate income tax, it could jeopardize any chance of a pay hike for teachers.
We should also point out that the governor included a salary increase for teachers in his executive budget recommendation. Thus, he seems ready to sign one from the legislature.
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