Saturday, February 2, 2008

House Votes to Fund MAEP, Teacher Pay Raise, Other Reforms

On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to fund MAEP and other educational programs. The kicker was a 3% raise for K-12 teachers and what comes out to be around a 4% raise for teacher assistants.

It was a contentious debate with two differing viewpoints on the subject of the teacher pay raise. The question was not whether teachers deserve a pay raise; the dividing point was whether we should approve a 3% raise now before we have a handle on how other programs will be funded. One school of thought was the idea that the House should wait to see how revenues come in before allocating money to a 3% raise that will cost the state around $60 million annually. With the Medicaid funding crisis looming, this side thought waiting to see how other funding problems shake out would the responsible thing to do. It was a valid point.

However, the other side of the coin was the perspective that by voting on it now, the House would be proactive in setting its priorities. A line would be drawn in the sand to state that above all else, we would continue to make a further investment in our human capital. This is the viewpoint I held, and thus, I voted for the pay raise and the entire education appropriation.

I believe education is the priority for Hattiesburg, South Mississippi and the entire state. I did not run on merely funding MAEP. I campaigned on turning our educational pursuits toward excellence, not simply adequacy. I campaigned on vocational training, early childhood education and paying our teachers what they're worth. I campaigned on continuing state support of the DuBard School. All of these were funded with Thursday's House bill, and that's why I voted for it.

1 comment:

Terry21 said...

Now this is a man sticking by his convictions and promises that got him in office.

By voting for the pay raise now, education is one of things on the front end and let other expenses be decided later.

How about some legislation encouraging HS coaches to get the talented MS athletes eligible for college? Having more NFL and other sports stars from MS would seem to be a boost to the economy of the state.