The 2019 Mississippi Legislative Session has come to a close. As a Republican, it is important to me that public education is always adequately funded. Unfortunately, there has been a number of misconceptions circulating regarding the Legislature’s funding of public education. Allow me to share the facts.
The taxpayers made another investment in Public Education and committed an additional 59 million dollars to increase our teachers and assistant teachers salaries with a $1500.00 annual pay raise. We were able to invest this additional revenue and maintain a balanced budget. An additional 60 million dollars were committed to the public employees retirement system known as PERS.
Also, legislation was passed to allow teachers and assistant teachers the options of taking personal vacation days the day before or the day after an official holiday. The legislation also allows educators to split their bereavement allotted days in times of family loss and take those days when it best meets the teacher’s emotional needs.
The taxpayers also invested $500,000 in an expanded debt forgiveness program based on geographic and subject needs. This will allow a teacher in certain geographic areas and in certain subjects to receive up to $3,000 a year towards their student loans.
We invested $300,000 in a Collaborative between cyber education & Cspire to help young people receive certificates and experience in coding. There are many coding jobs across the state that pay anywhere from $50,000 to $75000 annually.
Educators have received a $5,000 increase in pay in the last 5 years. This is in addition to the salary triggers they receive with years served. We continue to make steps in the right direction to bring teacher pay to the Southeastern average. Plans and discussions are under way to have an additional teacher and assistant teacher pay raise once a year for the next 3 years, pending revenue.
There seems to be some controversy around the 2 million dollar voucher for special needs children. Public Education received 59 million dollars in new revenue and the Special Needs Voucher program received 2 million dollar in funding. When a person compares those figures, 59 million to 2 million, public education had an overwhelming and smashing victory in the 2019 session over any voucher program.
Finally, it is difficult for most of us to imagine our 6.35 BILLION DOLLAR Mississippi budget so let me share these figures with you. Imagine if you only had $6.35 to spend; here’s how we spent it.
- $2.58 Dollars – K-12 Education
- $.71 Cents – College Education
- $.25 Cents – Community College
- $.93 Cents – Medicaid (1 of 3 Mississippians on public services) $1.02 Dollars – Public Safety
- $.30 Cents – Corrections
- $.56 Cents – For all of functions of state government. Legislature, Governor’s office, mental health, marine resources, agencies, offices, commissions, boards etc.
This is our 6.35 Billion dollar budget in simple $6.35 dollars we can all understand. Hope this might be helpful.
By the way, my favorite food is tacos and I’m willing to sit down with anyone, anytime, in any Mexican restaurant, and talk over the budget.
I can be reached at my office number (601) 359-3244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chad McMahan, of Guntown, serves as State Senator for Mississippi’s 6thDistrict.