2022 Legislative Session
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I noted in this recent article in the Mississippi Today that the upcoming Mississippi Legislature will have an overall budget of $23.3B to appropriate. As stated in the article, even though lawmakers won’t return to Jackson for the regular session until January to develop a budget for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, that procedure has already started through the LBO process.
The LBO is busy formulating the budget for the new fiscal year, therefore, but we must fight to ensure a generous pay raise for all state workers are included. The fact is, state workers have lost more in terms of spending power over the years. We believe that the continuous disregard of these workers has led to the serious issue(s) confronting them in their effort to sustain themselves and their families in an environment which sees everything required to meet basic needs increasing in price.
The Legislative Budget Committee, consisting of both the House and Senate agrees with and supports the need for a teacher pay raise. This represents forward-thinking on the part of those lawmakers who realize that a decent pay increase is needed to offset the continuous loss of teachers and their support staff. While we support, salute and appreciate this positive recognition for “taking care of the teachers” we would be remiss to not acknowledge the needs of our other state employees. The morale of those workers is very low and they are saddled with high caseloads because workers are leaving seeking better compensation and benefits with other employers. Thus, on one hand it’s a sign of Good Government for teachers but Bad Government for our other state employees.
The fact is, for years the annual salaries of MS state workers have lagged over $9,000 behind their counterparts in the four surrounding states of AL, TN, LA and AK, and 49th to 50th in the nation. Clearly, throwing state employees a token of a “pay increase bone” every ten years or more does not address the serious issue(s) confronting these employees in their effort to sustain themselves and their families in an environment that sees everything required to meet basic needs increasing in price. We believe that state workers’ pay increases should be an internal part of the budgets being proposed, and not an afterthought tacked on after other budgetary requirements have been dealt with. State Workers should be one of the most important factors to be considered in the budget process. These men and women sustain the state infrastructure and provide countless services to our citizens. Services that are in fact critical to thousands of people who live in the state and thousands more who visit for pleasure or come to conduct business.
MASE/CWA is requesting that the Mississippi State Legislature and Gov. Tate Reeves give top budgetary priority to providing state workers a significant pay increase for the first time in recent memory. The need is critical and the time is now because workers continue to provide critical essential services prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please contact your State Representative and Senator prior to the 2022 Legislative Session and garner their support for a decent pay raise, maintain PERS, SPB protection, and proper funding for our state agencies.