Report: Mississippi’s 50 highest-paid public officials make more than America’s 50 governors

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 7:54 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A new report reveals the public officials taking home the most money. And most aren’t elected. It’s the second year the Mississippi Center for Public Policy has published the “Fat Cat Report.”

“You might expect if you had a list of the highest paid public officials in Mississippi that you would see the Governor on the list or maybe the Lieutenant Governor, not at all, they wouldn’t even make the top 100,” noted Mississippi Center for Public Policy CEO Douglas Carswell.

Instead, the State Superintendent tops the list pulling in $300,000 a year...more than double what the Governor currently makes. And school district superintendents make up the majority of the list, taking home more than $160,000. When you add up those top 50 salaries, it’s more than all of the country’s governors combined.

“So many of the officials are unaccountable,” Carswell explained. “They’re not directly elected. We need to recognize the way we spend that money in our state is not in the interest of the public. We need to break these cartels. We need to make public officials meaningfully accountable to the public. How can the school superintendent for a small school district in Mississippi that is consistently underperforming, be paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year? That’s just not right.”

All but 4 of the top 50 are instead appointed.

The report suggests policy changes that could be made by the legislature to provide more accountability when setting salaries. I got mixed reactions from the two Senators who shared thoughts on the findings.

“The report’s a little bit disingenuous because it’s taking 46 of 50 people that are not elected, or the legislature doesn’t have any say over it directly,” said Sen. Chad McMahan. “I’m for performance and education, and if these elected boards, they want to put their revenue for to hire what they think is the best candidates. I don’t want to restrict that or interfere in that process. Unless there’s some overwhelming evidence that something’s improper taking place.”

“I’m not against, you know, paying, paying good, healthy salaries, because I think the better the salaries are, the better individually that you’re gonna attract to compete for these these positions,” explained Sen. Sollie Norwood. “But not to the point that is going to be, you know, kind of out of bounds when it comes to other salaries across across the state in the country.”

Read the full report HERE.

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