The Republican-led House passed its $188 million teacher pay package Wednesday 86-26 after beating back efforts of the Democrats to increase the amount.
Debate in the House lasted more than three hours as Democrats unsuccessfully tried to increase the $4,250 pay raise spread out over four years in the bill to an immediate $5,000 pay raise that would take effect in July. That amendment was defeated by 53 yes votes to 67 no votes along primarily party lines.
Rep. Preston Sullivan, D-Okolona, was the only Northeast Mississippi Democrat to join Republicans in opposing the higher, accelerated raise. All House members from the region voted for final passage of the bill.
The Republican majority argued that the state could not afford the Democratic proposal. Plus, Republicans also blocked efforts of Democrats to take out language requiring teachers with more than five years of experience to meet certain benchmarks to get the raise.
“I believe the measure we passed is a workable one for the Senate and the governor,” said House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton. “We are on the right path to investing in good teachers. You deserve a raise, and this is a big step in the right direction.”