Education group raises red flag on absence of teacher pay raise in latest budget recommendation

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 8:26 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - State lawmakers will return to the Capitol next month. But they always get a jump start on the budget work and their blueprints leave out a teacher pay raise that many had expected to see.

Education groups like The Parents’ Campaign were caught off guard when a teacher pay raise wasn’t part of the joint legislative budget committee’s recommendation.

“I do think it was important to include it in this recommendation, because these, this lays out the priorities of the legislature. And if this is your priority, why isn’t it included?” asked Nancy Loome, The Parents’ Campaign Executive Director.

In a statement Wednesday, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann says it is a priority of this administration. He also points to the listening sessions being held by the Senate Education Chairman around the state to gather teacher input.

“Providing professional pay for our teachers continues to be a priority for this administration. Senate Education Chairman Dennis DeBar has visited with teachers all over the state, and is bringing a plan this Legislative Session which reflects their input during these listening sessions.”

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann

We checked in with some lawmakers on why they think it was absent from the budget committee’s recommendation.

“We enter this on next 2022 legislative session, with $4.4 billion in available reserve funds,” described Sen. John Horhn who serves on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. “They’re in several different parts. But it totals about $4.4 billion. The challenge that we’ve got with that is that’s a lot of one time money. And if you got to find a teacher pay increase, you want to have a steady source of income that you can pay those salaries from.”

Rep. Robert Johnson echoed those thoughts... a concern that the excess is “one-time money.” Still, he notes.

“We’re flushed,” said Johnson. “And so to the extent that we have a surplus, we certainly should have teachers in that conversation about doing a pay raise, because it’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 hopes it will.

“I hope that we will see a really significant bill that’ll bring Mississippi to a point where we really can meet our potential,” added Loome.

The Parents’ Campaign is also raising a red flag that if the legislature again attempts to pass an elimination of the income tax, that could jeopardize any chance of a teacher pay raise.

We should also point out that the Governor did include a teacher pay raise in his executive budget recommendation. So, he seems prepared to sign off on one from the legislature.

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