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The Latest: Estimated overall cost of teacher raise falls

March 28, 2019

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on teacher pay raises and state budget talks in Mississippi (all times local):

10:45 p.m.

A top lawmaker says the overall cost to Mississippi taxpayers of a $1,500 teacher raise will be less than earlier thought.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Buck Clarke says the $1,500 raise that House and Senate negotiators agreed to Wednesday will only cost between $50 and $60 million in state funds. Earlier estimates had suggested it would cost more than $75 million. The Hollandale Republican, though, says there was an error in how much state money was needed to pay for the increase, because some teachers are paid with federal money.

The bill would also boost the long-frozen minimum salaries for assistant teachers from $12,500 to $14,000. The Mississippi Department of Education says there are 31,000 classroom teachers and 3,500 assistants statewide. Additional school personnel with educator licenses would also be covered.

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9:45 p.m.

Leaders in the Mississippi Legislature have agreed to give teachers a $1,500 pay raise in the budget year beginning July 1.

House and Senate negotiators filed a conference report late Wednesday to Senate Bill 2770 agreeing to the pay raise.

The election-year deal clears away one of the main obstacles to concluding the 2019 session. Lawmakers are likely to take up the measure in the House and Senate Thursday.

The measure will be rolled into regular paychecks and continue in future years.

A $1,500 pay raise will cost the state budget more than $75 million according to figures previously provided. Lawmakers could increase spending of state revenue next year by $200 million this year’s original budget.

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5 p.m.

How big a pay raise Mississippi teachers will get remains uncertain even as lawmakers begin passing parts of an election-year budget for the year beginning July 1.

Pieces of the spending plan passed Wednesday by House members include additional money meant to cut lines at driver’s license offices and provide more services to people at home instead of in nursing homes and state mental hospitals.

The overall budget will include more than $6 billion in state revenue and more than $20 billion overall including federal money. Legislative leaders continue to guard overall numbers as talks continue on pay raises for teachers, some state employees, community college employees and public university employees.

Teachers’ groups continue to lobby for much more than the $1,000 raise that Republican leaders have proposed.