On Monday the Mississippi House of Representatives passed the Teacher Pay Raise bill, SB 2770, but not before approving an amendment offered by Representative Steve Holland.
As passed in the Senate, the bill would offer a $1,000 raise for teachers over the next two years, effectively $500 a year per teacher. Just before the bill was passed, Rep. Holland offered his amendment that would change that number to $4,000 over two years, meaning $2,000 yearly per teacher. A significant increase from the original legislation.
Before the amendment was offered Chairman of Education Rep. Richard Bennett alluded to the fact that the original raise of $1,000 might be changed once the bill goes to conference. When the amendment was offered Bennett asked Representatives to “let the bill go through the process” and not to approve the amendment.
The amendment was passed on a voice vote, leaving no record of who voted for or against the bill. However Bennett made a motion to table, but the effort failed, 55-50.
Republicans that voted NOT to table the amendment to be reconsidered: Shane Barnett, Steve Hopkins, Chris Johnson, Missy McGee, Margaret Rogers, Jody Steverson, and Mark Tulles.
The Republican Representatives that chose not to vote at all on the motion: Shane Aguirre, William Arnold, Becky Currie, Chris Brown, Ashley Henley, Steve, Massengill, and Jerry Turner.
One Republican voted Present: Bill Kinkade.
The question of whether the amended bill will continue to move forward is up in the air. According to Speaker Pro Tem Gregg Snowden, under Holland’s amendment, the $200 million (of new revenue) would be distributed over two years, meaning $100 million per year.
“With PERS, the total overall, which is not affected by the amendment, is $64 million, $26 million for K-12 and counted in MAEP,” said Snowden. “The bill has a reverse repealer, which means that the Senate will not have an opportunity to concur, but must invite conference or kill the bill.
Snowden says that Holland’s $2,000/year raise at this point seems more like a vote of hope, for the type of raise that teachers deserve, but may not be anymore solid than the $500 that was included in the original bill. He believes that once the bill is in conference, the official pay raise number will between the $500 and $2,000 number.
“The accurate raise amount will come through the conference process,” said Snowden.
The amended version passed the House by a vote of 112-4.
The Mississippi Association of Educators also commented on the passing of the amended bill:
The Mississippi House Democratic Caucus sent out this response to the passage of the bill as amended:
“We are proud of the role we played in making sure our public school teachers are provided a fitting raise as a starting point to bringing their salaries up to the Southeastern average,” said David Baria, House Minority Leader. “We were on record as saying the previous offer of $500 per year ($9.62/wk) was embarrassing and insulting to those we rely on to prepare our students for productive, meaningful lives.”