301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

7.1.22 – Jackson, Miss. (WLBT)

It’s July 1, and that means new state laws take effect.

Lawmakers went back and forth on exactly how much to up teacher pay. The end result? An average $5,140 increase.

“The teachers who were going to see the greatest bump are teachers who only have a bachelor’s degree and are earlier in their careers,” explained Mississippi First Executive Director Rachel Canter. “They are going to see the most substantial immediate bump, but there are going to be teachers later on in their careers who are going to benefit from larger bumps every five years.”

Another new law sparked division, even within Republican leadership ranks. Income taxes weren’t eliminated, but over the next four years will be reduced.

“Mississippians will immediately experience what is the largest tax exemption in the country amongst states, that tax income,” described Russ Latino, Empower Mississippi President. “If you make less than $18,300 a year as a single filer, you won’t pay any taxes. As a married filing jointly, if you make $36,600, you won’t pay any taxes on income in the state. So that’s a huge benefit immediately to working-class people.”

Some worry the state can’t afford to do without that money.

“When they were debating the tax cuts, they assured us that they had plenty of money. The state of Mississippi has more than enough money to fulfill all of the state’s obligations, including to public schools,” said The Parents’ Campaign Executive Director Nancy Loome. “And yet, here we are with public schools horribly underfunded, and costs are rising.”

And we’re the last state to add an equal pay for equal work for Mississippi women. Yet, several groups say Mississippi women won’t be helped by the law.

“Mississippi definitely missed the mark,” said Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable Executive Director Cassandra Welchlin. “They missed the mark and passing an equal pay bill that would have really helped women’s pocketbooks and would have closed the wage gap. There is nothing equal about this. It really gives an employer the right to wage discriminate and to justify wage discrimination.”

You may be wondering why we left off items like medical marijuana. Well, it is one of the laws that took effect immediately after the Governor signed it. So, that is what has allowed work to begin in the last few months on building out the program.