Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who is running against Attorney General Jim Hood in the race to be Mississippi’s next governor, wants to raise the starting salary of Mississippi teachers to about $47,000 a year in the next four years.
Reeves made a campaign stop in Gulfport on Wednesday to discuss his plans to improve teacher pay.
Reeves said the starting salary for teachers in other Southern states is about $4,200 a year more than Mississippi, and that he hopes if elected to convince the Legislature to spend $52 million more on teacher salaries.
“I have a plan, a timetable,” he said. “We’ve crunched the numbers to determine how to ensure that our teachers make much more in the coming years.”
The Republican also said he wants the state to provide a $10,000 bonus to attract teachers to critical areas in Mississippi, and pay Mississippi National Board teachers the highest supplement in the nation, from $6,000 to $10,000. Per capita, this would allow the state to have the highest number of National Board Certified Teachers.
Reeves also said he wants to raise the pay of professors at community colleges, raise the amount of money teachers are given to pay for supplies, and create an advisory panel that would give the governor advice on subjects such as testing and discipline.
“We are in a financial position in our state that allows us to do that. I am confident that this is something that we can deliver on.”
Reeves said that the funds for this plan would come from revenue growth over the next four years in Mississippi.
“In the current fiscal year we’ve already collected $77 million more than what was originally budgeted for, and that was just in one quarter,” he said.
He said Hood has “made $941,00,00 in promises. He can’t do that without raising taxes,” Reeves said. “This is something we can do without raising taxes.”
Hood took to Twitter before the press conference.
“Tate Reeves is going to tell you how he suddenly has a plan for improving public education. Remind us where that “plan” has been for 8 years while education has suffered under your failed leadership. You don’t get a gold star for turning in your book report after it’s due.”
Reeves carried the three coastal counties in the Republican primary in August.
The general election against Hood is Nov. 5.