Mississippi House votes to raise teacher pay, make major changes in state tax structure.

NEMiss.News Speaker Philip Gunn
House Speaker Philip Gunn speaking in New Albany in October, 2021, while stumping in North Mississippi for his tax reduction bill.

 

 

The Mississippi House of Representatives passed two bills Wednesday, Jan. 12, that would radically change state tax policy and substantially raise the pay of public school teachers.

Both the tax and teacher pay bills passed the House within one hour. District 14 Representative Sam Creekmore informed NEMiss.News mid-afternoon Wednesday that the two bills had passed.

NEMiss.News MS Rep. Sam Creekmore

District 14 State Representative Sam Creekmore of New Albany supported both bills passed Wednesday.

The bills now go to the State Senate, whose members are working on their own revisions of state tax and teacher pay practices. Lieutenant-Governor Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the Senate, has opposed Gunn’s ideas for eliminating the personal income tax.

Hosemann effectively killed a similar House tax bill when it came to the Senate last year. Gunn and an overwhelming and bipartisan House majority apparently hope the substantial increase for Mississippi’s poorly paid teachers will be the sugar to make the tax bill medicine go down in the Senate this year

Both bills passed yesterday by the House could be significantly modified, if they pass at all, by the end of the Legislature’s 90-day session.

The House tax bill would gradually eliminate the state’s personal income tax over a period of 10-12 years. It also proposes raising the state sales tax on most items from 7% to 8.5%, effectively a 21% increase.

However, the bill would lower the sales tax on groceries from 7% to 5.5% in July and eventually lower it to 4%, ultimately a 43% decrease on grocery sales taxes.

Speaker Gunn made a speaking tour of North Mississippi in October, 2021, during which he said eliminating the sales tax would spur economic growth, by attracting more employers and jobs to the state.

The teacher pay bill has been called “transformational” by its supporters, who say Mississippi is losing teachers to states that pay teachers better.

The bill would raise the starting pay for most Mississippi teachers by $4,000 annually. Starting pay for some specialized teaching positions would increase by more than $6,000. The annual cost of the proposed teacher pay raise would be approximately $219-million. Top starting pay for Mississippi teachers would go from $37,000 per year to $43,124. The regional average is $39,897, and the national average starting pay is $41,163 per year.

More about the Republican tax plan: https://www.nemiss.news/mississippi-republicans-want-to-raise-sales-taxes-eliminate-personal-income-tax/

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