Governor Phil Bryant has proposed giving Mississippi teachers $50 million in pay raises, boosting overall teacher salaries by about 3 percent, or $790 before taxes, in each of the next two years. The raises are one of the major expenditures in Bryant’s $6.3 billion budget proposal for the year beginning July 1st. Bryant also proposes $75 million in increased funding for the state’s pension fund, $8.5 million to increase college financial aid, nearly $26 million to increase funding to Mississippi’s foster care program and $17 million to improve pay and funding for the state prison system. Mississippi lawmakers last approved a $2,500 pay raise for teachers in 2014 which cost the state roughly $100 million a year.
The National Education Association rates Mississippi last among states in teacher salaries; the state department of education says the average teacher made $44,659 in 2016-2017 including state funds based on education and years of experience as well as local supplements that vary by school district. Teachers in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia have gone on strike during the past year to demand higher pay but Mississippi educators have shown no sign that they plan to do so.