Legislative Dems’ agenda includes teacher pay

GUNN

GUNN

By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Legislative Democrats and Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, have found some common ground on their agendas for the just-started 2014 session.

On Wednesday, Democrats – a minority in both the House and Senate – outlined their agenda, which included an across-the-board pay raise for teachers, which Gunn has endorsed.

Neither Democrats nor Gunn provided details on how big the raise should be for about 30,000 teachers across the state.

“We will support a teacher pay raise across the board…,” said Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones, D-Canton. “If you are a teacher in the state of Mississippi – whether Democrat or Republican – you deserve a raise.”

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has not proposed a pay raise for the current session, but he has said the next increase teachers receive should be based on merit instead of across the board.

While Gunn and the Democrats might agree on a teacher pay raise, there will be plenty of areas of disagreement.

Democrats voiced support for expanding Medicaid , which Gunn opposes.

Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said with state revenue increasing it is time to embrace “a radical proposal” and have the Legislature follow the law and fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Bryan said a method could be put in place to phase in full funding.

The Democrats also embraced a pay raise for state employees, who have not had one in seven years. Gunn has said he would consider a pay raise for state employees.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com