JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi teachers say they don’t want to be election year pawns. But now, they’re playing a waiting game to learn how much lawmakers are willing to raise their pay. Lawmakers approved a new and higher revenue estimate Monday. Translation, they are officially giving the legislature more money to work with before this session wraps up. Education advocates hope that means approving a higher teacher pay raise.
“These are our tax dollars that the people of Mississippi have been paying into the system," said The Parents’ Campaign Executive Director Nancy Loome. “And the people of Mississippi have made it very clear that they want us to put more money into public education and specifically into paying our teachers better.”
As a recap, the Senate first proposed a $1,000 dollars phased in over two years. House members voted to bump that up to $4,000. Since they couldn’t agree on the amount, the bill got sent to conference.
“We’re all anxious about that number and wondering what will happen behind closed doors without our input,” noted Mississippi Association of Educators President Joyce Helmick.
With the bill getting sent to conference, it means three house and three senate members will work on a compromise. But educators want to know who that will be.
“The committee has been selected to make this decision and we don’t even know who they are," explained Helmick. "Because our educators across the state are saying ‘who do we contact now?’ Let us know. We’re ready. We want to be engaged and we want to let them know how we feel.”
Time may also be running out. Some lawmakers say they are shooting for ending the session this week. Even still, the conference report will have to get final approval from the other members.
“If the conference report does not include an appropriate pay raise, legislators can send it back with instructions to come back with a 4,000 dollar pay raise," said Loome. "So, that’s what constituents, voters should be holding their own legislators accountable for.”
To view the history and updates of the bill, click HERE.