Mississippi teacher pay raise bill headed to governor’s desk

Published 6:57 pm Thursday, March 18, 2021

Mississippi legislators have agreed on a teacher pay raise plan, and it will head to Gov. Tate Reeves.

The Republican governor said earlier this year that he would sign any teacher pay raise bill that lands on his desk.

House Bill 852 would give most teachers and teachers’ assistants a $1,000 pay raise. Newer teachers would get $1,100.

The House passed the final version of the bill Thursday, agreeing to changes made by the Senate.

“Advancing the teacher pay raise bill to the Governor’s desk was the right thing to do,” Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann wrote Thursday on Twitter. “Our teachers deserve a salary increase, particularly after their efforts on behalf of kids during the pandemic.”

House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican, praised the House for passing the bill — and he leveled criticism at the Senate.

“The Senate sent back an amended version of our original bill, which provides less money for certain teachers,” Gunn wrote on Twitter.

Mississippi has long had some of the lowest teacher salaries in the nation. According to the Southern Regional Education Board, the average teacher salary in the U.S. for 2018-19 was $62,304. For Mississippi, the average was $45,105.

The current pay raise proposal is similar to one that stalled last year after the coronavirus pandemic created uncertainty about state spending.

Legislators are in the final weeks of their three-month session, and they are preparing to set budgets for state agencies for the year that begins July 1. They had to agree on a teacher pay plan as part of the decision-making process for education spending.