Teacher pay raise plan moves forward at Mississippi Capitol

Published 8:56 am Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Mississippi House acted quickly Wednesday to approve a bill that would increase teacher pay, nudging ahead of senators who are working on a separate plan.

The House bill would give raises of $4,000 to $6,000. The Senate proposes an average increase of $4,700 over two years.

The House voted 114-6 Wednesday to pass House Bill 530 with bipartisan support. State Representative Brady Williamson of Oxford was one of the few members to vote against the bill. The Eagle has reached out for a statement from Williamson.

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The bill emphasizes increasing the starting pay to retain young educators who might otherwise move to surrounding states to earn more money.

“We are in competition with these other states for our teachers,” said House Education Committee Chairman Richard Bennett, a Republican from Long Beach. “The best and the brightest are being pulled to these other states.”

It is not clear when the Senate will vote on its plan.

The two Republican-controlled chambers and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves must agree on a single plan before teachers could see more money.

Mississippi has some of the lowest teacher salaries in the United States.

The average teacher salary in Mississippi during the 2019-20 academic year was $46,843, according to the Southern Regional Education Board. That lagged behind the average of $55,205 for teachers in the 16 states of the regional organization. The national average was $64,133.

The starting salary for a Mississippi teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $37,000 for the current school year, according to the state Department of Education. Teachers with advanced degrees and more experience are paid more.

Reeves has proposed giving teachers a $1,300 pay raise during the budget year that begins July 1, then $1,000 raises for each of the next two years.