Republicans and Democrats want equal pay in Mississippi

Women nationwide have been taking to any forum to press for equal pay with men.
Women nationwide have been taking to any forum to press for equal pay with men. AP

When David Baria filed his Evelyn Gandy Fair Pay Act earlier this year, he lamented that equal pay for women had come to be labeled a liberal issue.

It appears that label has just fallen off.

Monday afternoon, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch sent a press release touting bipartisan support for equal pay for women.

“Closing the pay gap is good for Mississippi on so many levels,” Fitch said. “For the 78,000 households in poverty headed by single moms, it gives them a fair chance to break the cycle of poverty. For the 60 percent of Mississippi university degrees earned by women, it gives them a reason to take jobs in states that protect equal pay for equal work. And, for all Mississippi taxpayers and consumers, it puts another $4 billion back into the economy each year.”

The release mentions Republican Rep. Becky Currie’s HB 818 and Republican Sen. Sally Doty’s SB 2697 specifically. Baria, a Bay St. Louis Democrat, and Rep. Carolyn Crawford of Pass Christian are co-authors of the House bill.

“Wage inequality not only affects Mississippi’s women, it also has a negative impact on our state’s economy as a whole along with entire families,” Baria said. “We owe it to all Mississippians to get this done right.”

Democrats Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes of Gulfport and Rep. Orlando Paden of Clarksdale endorsed the bills, as did Sen. Tammy Witherspoon, D-McComb.

“It is inexcusable in this day and time to be paying women less money for doing the same job as men,” Crawford, who was also an author of the Gandy Act, said. “We can and we will do better in our state. We can and we will fix this.”

Doty’s bill is double-referred to the Acountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee chaired by Sen. John A. Polk, R-Hattiesburg, (601-359-2395) and the Judiciary A Committee chaired by Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport (601-359-3237). Currie’s bill is double -referred to the Workforce Development Committee chaired by Rep. Donnie Bell, R-Fulton, (601-359-3396). Rep. Doug McLeod, R-Lucedale, (601-359-3278) is the vice chairman.

Equal Pay Facts

  • In Mississippi, women overall earn on average $0.75 for every $1 men earn.
  • A mom who works full-time, year-round in Mississippi earns just $0.67 for every $1 earned by a dad working full-time.
  • Over a 40-year career, the average woman in Mississippi will lose $375,000 because the state lacks basic protections ensuring equal pay for equal work.
  • In 2015, women with a high school diploma and no college earned on average $20,436 compared with men with the same level education who earned on average $31,921.
  • Women with a bachelor’s degree working full-time, year-round earned on average $35,298 in 2015, compared with men with the same level of education that earned on average $50,472 (2015 American Community Survey, 1-year).

Treasurer Lynn Fitch