Mississippi teachers are one step closer to a $1,000 per year pay increase.
The state Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a $1,000 a year teacher pay raise that will bring starting teachers’ salary to $37,000 a year. This is still below the Southeastern regional average of $38,420 and national average of $40,154.
In 2019 educators received a raise of $1,500 a year. Last school year (2019-20) the average salary for a teacher was $46,843, according to the Mississippi Department of Education. A study by the National Education Association of starting teacher salaries for 2018-2019 ranked Mississippi’s pay 46th among states.
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann is pushing the pay raise and aiming for more in the coming years. Hosemann made teacher pay a big part of his successful campaign in 2019. He noted the bill was “No. 1,” the first filed and assigned in the Senate.
Also pushing for the raise is Senate Education Chairman Dennis DeBar Jr., a Republican from Leaksville. DeBar said the raises would cost taxpayers about $51 million a year, but a recent report shows the state’s roughly $6 billion budget is running about $325 million above revenue estimates. He and Hosemann said state finances appear sound and the state can afford the teacher raise.
Last year, a similar proposed raise passed the Senate but died in the House amid budget uncertainties from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The measure now heads to the state House, but Speaker Philip Gunn this week said the House will not tackle the issue until later in the session, once state revenue and budget estimates become more firm.