Legislature exploring further teacher pay increases in 2022.

Governor Tate Reeves (R) proposed raising teacher pay $4,300 during his run for the state’s top office in 2019.  The Legislature moved that needle in the 2021 session with a $1,000 teacher pay raise, a bill the Governor was pleased to sign into law.

Reeves is now calling on lawmakers to pass a plan for the remainder of his proposal when the Legislature gavels back in come January 2022.

“All of you know that I am a strong fiscal conservative,” Reeves told the crowd at the Neshoba County Fair last Thursday. “Spending tax money on new things is not in my nature. But educational attainment is my priority. And it would be wrong for us to not demonstrate that we appreciate that Mississippi teachers out-did the rest of America during COVID.”

Governor Reeves said despite what some say, Mississippi is not last in teacher pay. He said Mississippi ranks 37th in teacher pay when adjusted for cost of living.

“That is not last. But that is still not good enough. Y’all, we can do better,” Reeves said.

Governor Reeves is now proposing an immediate $1,300 across-the-board teacher pay raise followed by $1,000 per year in each of the next two fiscal years.

“This additional $3,300 pay raise will result in Mississippi going from 37th nationally to 21st, and 4th in the southeast, and help us attract the top-tier educators that our children deserve,” Reeves said.

When asked about those standings, the Governor’s office cited the National Center for Education Statistics data points with the recent 2021 teacher pay raise reflected and updated. Cost of living data was used from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

The Mississippi Legislature seems poised to act on another round of teacher pay raises in the 2022 session. Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann (R) says his chamber will be holding hearings later this year to examine the salary schedules.

“The Senate has voted for pay raises for teachers for the past two years,” Lt. Governor Hosemann told Y’all Politics. “In September, Education Chairman Dennis DeBar is holding hearings to examine the salary schedule in its entirety. We will continue to support teachers.”

State Senator David Blount, a leading proponent of teacher pay raises from the Democratic minority, echoed Lt. Governor Hosemann’s comments.

“The Senate has passed teacher pay raises each of the last two years.  Next year, under the leadership of Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and Chairman Dennis DeBar, we will again propose a meaningful teacher pay package,” State Senator Blount told Y’all Politics. “Beyond that, we are conducting a comprehensive overview of our salary structure to attract more bright young people into the profession.  I am looking forward to continue working on these efforts to support our teachers.”

Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, fully supports Governor Reeves call for increased teacher pay.

“I fully support Gov. Reeves’ proposal to raise salaries for Mississippi teachers,” said Dr. Wright in a statement to Y’all Politics. “Our teachers have helped Mississippi students achieve historic academic gains and they deserve to be compensated at the highest level possible.”

Governor Reeves says continuing to raise teacher pay will make sure that any teacher who wants to be in Mississippi can afford to teach in Mississippi. 

“Passing this teacher pay raise is going to be a priority for me – and I hope it will be a priority for you,” Reeves told the Neshoba listeners.

Y’all Politics sought comment from Speaker Philip Gunn’s office as well as from Nancy Loome with The Parents Campaign. No comments were received from these at the time of this publication. Should they respond, the article will be updated to reflect those statements.