What to sacrifice for teacher raises?

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 20, 2000

Mississippi teachers saw their hopes of getting a pay raise this year grow a little more dim Monday as Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck publicly said such legislation was unlikely to pass.

The problem, Tuck says, is that decreased tax revenue has tightened the budget too much to easily find a way to fund the pay raises.

Many lawmakers have been saying as much for the past several weeks. The fact is, that for the last eight months, tax collections have been about $36 million lower than original expectations.

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What makes Tuck’s announcement more noteworthy is that she — along with Gov. Ronnie Musgrove — loudly campaigned that they would raise teacher pay to the southeastern average. Now it seems all of those teachers who voted for Tuck and Musgrove are more than a bit miffed that she has — when push comes to shove — backed down from the fight.

We think she did the right thing.

While Musgrove is sticking to his teacher pay raise plan, we think it’s simple a bad idea. Musgrove’s plan is the buy now, pay later plan. He wants the Legislature to approve a plan now that will start raising teacher pay next year.

The big question seems to be: Where will the state get the money to fund the raises?

Musgrove doesn’t offer any quick and easy answer on the issue, because there isn’t one.

Taxpayers in Mississippi have to realize that nothing in life is free. If we hope to raise our teachers’ salaries — which need to be increased — we must be willing to make a sacrifice.

We must realize that the money for teacher pay raises will come from somewhere. Are we willing to either take cuts in state services or pay more for taxes?