Teacher pay raise among bills to die following Tuesday’s deadline

Tuesday was an important day at the Capitol as the deadline for bills that originated in the opposite chamber to pass out of the committee stage has now come and gone. Among the bills that died was SB 2001, which would’ve provided Mississippi teachers with a $1,000 pay raise. 

The bill was passed by the Senate early in the 2020 session, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent effect on the state’s budget took the potential pay raise off the table. During a recent presentation to state lawmakers, State Economist Dr. Darrin Webb forecasted that Mississippi could stand to lose over $1 billion as a result of the economic impact of the virus. 

If passed, the pay raise for Mississippi teachers would’ve cost the state around $60 million annually, according to Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White, who said that the desire to get the bill passed was certainly there. 

“We want a pay raise for teachers just as much as the Senate does, but certainly COVID-19 has thrown cold water on that,” White said on June 5. 

In addition to the raise for current teachers, SB 2001 would have raised the starting salary for new teachers in Mississippi to $37,000. 

Prior to the suspension of the session, lawmakers did pass a bill to cover the $18.4 million deficit from last year’s $1,500 teacher pay raise following a calculation error by the Department of Education. It was signed by Governor Tate Reeves. 

A few other key bills that died Tuesday include: 

SB 2522 – A bill seeking to establish an equal pay law in Mississippi

SB 2459 – A bill to increase possible penalties for gang activity convictions

Key bills that advanced include: 

SB 2594 – A bill to extend the Mississippi Education Scholarship Account Program

SB 2725 – A bill to create the “Mississippi Hemp Cultivation Act”

HB 1559 – A bill to supply services and support to victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation