JACKSON, Miss. — House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, talked on Monday about his support of across-the-board teacher pay raises in Mississippi.
At the Stennis Press luncheon Gunn explained again that it’s been seven years since a salary increase for Mississippi teachers has been seen.
“Well I’m for merit-based, I’m not opposed to that,” said Gunn. “But we have yet to determine exactly how we’re going to do merit-based pay, and it’s my belief that an overwhelming majority of teachers in this state are good.”
Gunn is referring to the pay raise that’s been backed by Gov. Phil Bryant that ties performance to pay. He said there’s still “a small pool” of teachers that are not doing their job.
“And I’m not for paying them, I don’t want to pay them,” said Gunn. “We’re trying to explore ways on how not to reward insufficient work.”
But in the mean time, he explained the majority of the teachers that are doing a good job are feeling the lack of a salary increase in seven years. An across-the-board raise would, in theory, be much faster to pass in this year’s legislative session than a merit-based pay raise due to the lack of set guidelines.
“We’ve also got a situation where our base-pay is very low,” he said. “And we are competing with surrounding states and I think we need to get that up as well.”
The total costs of any sort of teacher pay raise hinges obviously on how much the legislature is willing to allocate.
“We have not yet said how much and we have not set a number.”
Gunn said those numbers won’t be known until the end of March, and he’s hopeful the funds will be available for such a raise due to Mississippi’s economy out-pacing the national economy.
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