As the state budget works its way through the Legislature, the news is not good for Mississippi taxpayers. As things stand, we risk losing our best teachers and state workers, all the while giving hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to everyone from shopping centers to multistate corporations.
A productive workforce is key to any government, just as it is to any business. We pay tax dollars to care for those with severe mental and physical conditions. We pay law enforcement officers and operate prisons to keep us safe. We expect the Health Department to protect us from disease and to see that our drinking water is safe. We pay tax dollars to educate our children. All of these things require good, hard-working people.
If wages aren’t competitive, our best workers and teachers will leave for better-paying jobs. Over the past seven years, take-home pay for teachers and state employees has gone down. Deductions for state insurance and retirement have increased, while pay scales have remained the same. As the economy improves, our best teachers and state employees have other job opportunities, and they will begin taking them.