Meridian Star

Columns

March 2, 2014

Republicans investing in teachers

MERIDIAN — House Republicans believe if we are going to improve our educational system, we must invest in good teachers. For this reason, we have led the effort to implement a teacher pay raise this year. The plan we have proposed invests in good teachers by calling for a pay raise of $4,250 over the next four years.

    First, our plan raises the starting pay for teachers during Fiscal Year (FY) 1 and FY2, which start in January 2015. Currently our base pay is $30,900, but the average base pay for the entire Southeast is closer to $32,500. Our plan increases the starting salary by $1,500 to bring us in line with the Southeastern average.

    Secondly, beyond the first two years, our plan provides that if growth is 3 percent or better, then the first 1 percent of growth goes toward teacher pay raises.  This will result in a $1,350 raise in FY3 and a $1,400 raise in FY4. The growth projections for our state over the next three fiscal years are 4.4 percent in FY2016, 4.1percent in FY2017, and 3.7 percent in FY2018.  We believe these are solid projections.

    The effect of this plan is that our teachers will have received a $4,250 raise by July 1, 2018. Please keep in mind that this is an addition to their STEP increases and any other professional advancement increases that are currently in law, including local supplements.

    I have stated from the beginning of this session that it is our goal to give a teacher pay raise. Everyone needs to realize that the only reason we are even able to talk about a teacher pay raise is because of the fiscally conservative budgeting practices that have been implemented over the last two years during Republican leadership.

    With the help of the governor and the Senate, we have gotten our budget in line and on the right track. Because we have lived within our means and have not spent more than we have to spend, we have created an opportunity to discuss a teacher pay raise that otherwise would not have existed. We are putting as many dollars as we can possibly afford into this raise while at the same time living within our means.

    Everything we are proposing is being done from the mindset that we have to invest in good teachers. Because we are making ourselves more competitive with our surrounding states, we will be better able to retain our good teachers and give those good teachers outside our state a reason to consider coming here.  

    This plan puts more than $180 million into teacher pay over the next four years. That is a serious commitment to our teachers and our children from the House Republicans.

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