Senate passes $1,000 teacher raise, seeks to pay as bonus

Mississippi's state senators on Wednesday voted to advance a plan that would raise public school teacher salaries by $500 a year over two years, for a total of $1,000.

Posted: Feb 13, 2019 7:33 PM
Updated: Feb 14, 2019 9:44 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's state senators on Wednesday voted to advance a plan that would raise public school teacher salaries by $500 a year over two years, for a total of $1,000.

The unanimous vote on Senate Bill 2770 came despite continued questions about whether the state could afford more. The package is projected to cost more than $100 million over two years.

"What do I say to my constituents who say our educator pay raise is a joke and it equals only $50 a month and you're just doing this because it's an election year?" asked Sen. Derrick Simmons, a Greenville Democrat.

Senators on Wednesday amended the proposal to pay the raise to teachers at one time as a bonus. Republican Sen. David Parker of Olive Branch and Democratic Sen. Angela Turner-Ford of West Point argued teachers would appreciate the money more in one lump sum and would think more fondly of lawmakers.

"That would be a help they would appreciate and they would see a lot more," Turner-Ford said.

In addition to teachers, the measure would also boost the long-frozen salaries of assistant teachers from $12,500 to $13,500 over the same two-year period. The Mississippi Department of Education says there are 31,000 teachers and 3,500 assistants statewide. An additional number of certified counselors and librarians would also be covered.

The Senate rejected an amendment proposed by Democratic Sen. David Blount of Jackson to abolish the state's program that pays bonuses to some teachers at schools that get an A or B or improve a letter grade in the state's rating system. Blount wanted to use the $25 million spent on that program this year to boost raised to $2,000 total, or $1,000 each year.

The bill moves to the House, which has been considering a proposal for an identical raise, but it's unclear whether that amount will be the last word on the subject. Some lawmakers have said discussion on the amount of the proposed pay raise would continue throughout the session.

Democrats and teacher groups have been deriding the pay plan as too small, but Republicans said that's what the state can afford, considering other needs.

"I think many in here support giving as much pay raise as we can offer," said Sen Brice Wiggins, a Pascagoula Republican. There are other things in the budget we have to look at."

The National Education Association, a teachers union, said Mississippi had the lowest average salary among the states at $42,925 in the 2016-2017 school year. The state Department of Education says the average teacher salary was a little higher, almost $45,000 in 2017-2018.

Teachers in states including Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia have gone on strike during the past year to demand higher pay. Educators in Mississippi have shown no sign that they plan on doing the same.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
Lauderdale7181240
Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
Lafayette6171118
Washington5323133
Bolivar4797132
Oktibbeha461498
Panola4561105
Pearl River4499145
Marshall4397103
Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
Neshoba4026176
Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
Winston226881
Tishomingo225967
Jasper220848
Attala214173
Chickasaw207157
Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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