A potential $4,000 pay raise for Mississippi teachers is under consideration by the Mississippi State House Appropriations Committee, following approval of an amendment on the House floor Monday.
The $4,000 raise would be given over two years, with teachers receiving a $2,000 raise each year.
The potential $4,000 raise is a considerable increase over the $1,000 raise originally proposed in the House and passed in the Senate in February.
Like the current bill, the $1,000 raise would have been presented as $500 a year over two years.
Columbus Republican Rep. Gary Chism said he supported the raise, but also emphasized the need for a balanced state budget. He called the senate bill, which retained the original $1,000 raise “almost insulting.”
“We are very hopeful that when the appropriations gets through, that we will be able to do the $4,000 pay raise,” Chism said. “It shows our desire to do that, but we still have to have a balanced budget, so that’s what we were attempting to do by bumping it to $4,000.”
Starkville Republican and House Education Committee Vice Chair Rep. Rob Roberson also spoke in support of the raise.
However, he also emphasized the need for a balanced budget and possible pay raises for other state employees.
“For every $1,000 increase to pay for teachers, it equates to about a $25 million increase on the payment side, and a $6 million payment increase on the (Public Employees’ Retirement System) side, so that bill will be about a $50 million hit to the budget,” Roberson said.
Roberson said he hoped the state could afford the $4,000 raise.
“There was not one house member who voted against the teacher pay, whether Democrat or Republican,” Roberson said.
He said other public employees, including those of Mississippi’s public universities could also see pay raises.
Sen. Angela Turner-Ford, a West Point Democrat, said she would support the $4,000 if it came to the Senate. She said none of her constituents had asked her to oppose the pay raise.
“Originally the senate bill came over to the house, and I think they increased the amount to $4,000, and it’s going to have to come back before the Senate,” Turner-Ford said. “I would support it,” Turner-Ford added. “Certainly, I have not received any calls from constituents asking me not to, and I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t.”
In a blog post, local public education advocate and founding member of the Mississippi Public Education PAC Leslie Fye voiced support of the $4,000 raise. “If we want to change the world, our world has to embrace respecting, supporting and believing in our educators,” Fye wrote in the post, titled “Staying in my $4,000 Lane.”
“One symbol of that belief is a salary commensurate with their most valuable role in society. Fye also referred to Mississippi teachers as “front line interventionists” for the state’s children. “These men and women teach the most under-resourced children in the poorest state in the nation and teach under the pressure of a high-stakes accountability model,” Fye wrote.