WCBI – Lieutenant Governor says teacher pay raise priority for upcoming session

WTOK – Bryant, Reeves call for teacher pay raise

Mississippi’s governor and lieutenant governor say they will support teacher pay raises in the 2019 legislative session, months before state elections.

The Republicans expressed support Thursday in a series of tweets. Spokespersons for both Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves say no plan has been finalized and they expect to work something out once lawmakers convene for the 2019 regular session in January.

Reeves is expected to run for governor next year.

The Mississippi Department of Education says teachers made an average of $44,659 in the 2016-2017 school year.

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CLARION LEDGER – Conservative columnist George Will pens piece on Democrat Espy, Senate odds

National conservative columnist George Will has penned a piece titled, “How a Democrat could finagle a win in Mississippi” after a trip to Oxford and a sit-down with Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy.

Amid some quoting of William Faulkner and invoking “Eudora Welty, Walker Percy, Shelby Foote (and) Jesmyn Ward” and waxing metaphorically about the state’s “rich loam” of social soil and catfish, Will says, “The odds are somewhat, but only somewhat, against Espy, so the possibility of victory is not an illusion.”

“He is campaigning within the parameters of normal politics, which makes this a satisfying American as well as local moment,” Will ends the column.

Will talked campaign arithmetic with former U.S. Rep. Espy on the November special election to replace longtime Sen. Thad Cochran. Espy faces Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, whom Gov. Phil Bryant appointed to fill the seat temporarily, and Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who nearly toppled Cochran in a 2014 primary. The two Republicans have thus far focused most efforts at bashing each other, while Espy’s campaign has been low-key. That’s all likely to change as the election nears.

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WDAM – Mississippi education funding causes concern

In 1997, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program was created to ensure that every child in the state receives a quality education whether they live in a wealthy or poor community. However, in over 20 years, it’s only been fully funded twice.

“The state, however, in my opinion, has not made education a priority not only in this particular instance, but historically has not made it a priority,” said Rep. Jeramey Anderson. “Instead, it’s decreased funding several years, failed to fully fund things and have put other things above education as far as tax breaks and what have you.”

Funding from the program go toward teacher and other district employee salaries, textbooks and instructional materials, basic operation costs, transportation, special education, vocational education, gifted and alternative education. However, Sen. Joey Fillingane believes the program is outdated and is long overdue for some changes.

“Anything that’s that old in education, which is quickly moving and changing as education is in our country, needs to be updated,” he said.

Fillingane says that lawmakers hope to change the education formula soon.