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A lot of political posturing in raise debate
by By Tim Kalich Greenwood Commonwealth
Mar 20, 2014 | 169 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Expect a lot of posturing this week between Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn over their dueling pay raises for Mississippi schoolteachers.

Also expect some disingenuous or misleading rhetoric, like that issued last week by Reeves after the House rejected the Senate's less-generous version.

"Unfortunately, the House voted today against teachers getting $3,500 more in their paycheck by July 1, 2015," Reeves said in a prepared statement. "I had hoped this week Gov. Bryant could sign a significant teacher pay increase that included merit pay and was within our budget, but the House let political posturing win over increased teacher pay."

The House may be guilty of political posturing, as Reeves claims, but so is the lieutenant governor.

He's gone from initially being lukewarm to a pay raise, to offering his own version, to insisting that his version be the one the House adopts - and in the process stealing the limelight from Gunn, who broke ranks with the Republican leadership and got this whole ball rolling for a multi-year across-the-board increase in teachers' salary schedule.

It's especially misleading of Reeves to use the pay-hike figure of $3,500 in his statement of what the House action has jeopardized.

If the Legislature does nothing this year, teachers will still get $1,000 in raises over the next two years in so-called "step" increases. The Senate plan is to add another $2,500 on top of that.

It's almost certain that the Legislature will settle this session on a pay-hike bill to send to Bryant. It may be a compromise version between the two proposals, but one is coming.

All of the rest of this is mostly an exercise in who gets the bulk of the credit with an influential voting bloc.

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