Gov. Tate Reeves signs law to cover gap in teacher pay

Gov. Tate Reeves signs law to cover gap in teacher pay
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves reacts to a question during a news conference regarding his establishing a diverse group of experienced Mississippians to help with a nationwide search for a new Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) commissioner, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has signed his first bill into law: a measure to ensure that teachers receive the full pay raise they were promised this school year.

The $1,500 raise was approved during the 2019 legislative session, but officials later discovered a bureaucratic error.

Because of the way some school districts keep records about certain categories of teachers, too few teachers were counted in the total cost of the raise. The result was that too little money was included in the original budget for the year that started July 1.

Reeves, a Republican, became governor Jan. 14, and on Thursday signed House Bill 1, which allocates more than $18.4 million. That should be enough to cover the rest of the cost of the raise during the current budget year.

Legislative leaders say no teachers have lost money because of the original error.

Covering the cost of the raise was not a challenge because the state has been collecting more money than anticipated during the current budget year.

Legislators are also expected to consider another pay raise for teachers this year, but House and Senate leaders have not agreed on specific proposals. Mississippi has long had among the lowest teacher salaries in the United States.

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