Increase in teachers and reduction in taxes are the main issues of the session of Mississippi | Health, Medicine and Fitness
By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS – Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers ended their busiest session in years after enacting the largest teacher salary increase in a generation and securing the state’s largest-ever income tax cut. .
“Obviously, by any measure, the Mississippi Legislature has played this year,” Republican Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said Tuesday.
After more than a year of economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mississippi’s tax revenue has rebounded in recent months, thanks in part to massive federal pandemic relief spending.
As they wrapped up their session on Tuesday, lawmakers completed work on two sets of spending bills.
The first was a state government budget for the year that begins July 1, using more than $7 billion in state money and billions more federal dollars.
The second was a plan to spend about $1.5 billion of the $1.8 billion Mississippi receives from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a federal spending package aimed at revitalizing the economy amid of the pandemic. Mississippi will use about $750 million for water system improvements.
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“When you consider the number of problems we had in front of us this year, it was pretty staggering at first,” House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Clinton Republican, said at the end of the session.
During the next school year, teachers will receive raises this averages about $5,100, and assistant teachers will receive $2,000. The average teacher salary in Mississippi in 2019-20 was $46,843, according to the Southern Regional Education Board. The national average was $64,133.
The Mississippi will reduce your income tax over four years. From 2023, the 4% tax bracket will be abolished. The following three years, the 5% portion will be reduced to 4%. After the first year, the non-taxable income levels would be $18,300 for a single person and $36,600 for a married couple.
Republican Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill on February 2 to legalize medical cannabis for people with debilitating illnesses. It came into effect immediately, but the opening of the first clinics will take months. In November 2020, voters in Mississippi approved a medical marijuana initiative. The state Supreme Court overturned it six months later ruling that it was not properly on the ballot because the initiative process was outdated.
Lawmakers updated the limits of the four US House quarters, 52 State Senate districts and 122 State House districts to take into account the demographic changes revealed by the 2020 census.
Mississippi could become the last state to enact legislation requiring equal pay for equal work for women and men. A bill awaits action by the governor. Critics said the bill is harmful because it would allow an employer to pay a woman less than a man based on the pay history workers bring into new jobs.
Millions of dollars will go towards improving the condition of state parks. Leaders said Mississippi could request federal funds to supplement state spending.
National and local electoral offices are forbidden to accept donations outside groups for election operations, under a bill Reeves signed into law. Mississippi joins other Republican-led states in imposing a ban in response to donations Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made across the United States in 2020.
The state Department of Health could issue up to five licenses for autonomous emergency rooms in rural areas, under a pending governor’s bill.
From the next four-year term, wages would increase for the governor, lieutenant governor, and six other state officials; transport and civil service commissioners; and the Speaker of the House, under a pending governor’s bill.
In March, Reeves signed a bill prohibiting schools, community colleges or universities from teaching that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.” It became law immediately. Several black lawmakers have said the limitations could stifle honest discussion about the harmful effects of racism.
Lawmakers voted to drop “Come on, Mississippi,” which has been the state song since 1962. It uses the tune of “Roll With Ross”, the 1959 campaign jingle of segregationist Governor Ross Barnett. A bill designates “One Mississippi,” by singer-songwriter Steve Azar, as a new state song. It also creates a committee to recommend additional state songs from various genres. The bill awaits action by the governor.
WHAT LEGISLATORS DIDN’T DO
House and Senate negotiators failed to agree on a plan to reinvigorate an initiative process that would allow people to petition to put issues on the statewide ballot. the The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in May that the state initiative process was impractical because it required people to collect signatures from five congressional districts the state had not used in decades.
The Senate passed a bill to expand Postpartum Medicaid Coverage, but Gunn and House Medicaid Committee Chairman Joey Hood killed it without bringing it up for a vote in the House. Mississippi allows two months of Medicaid coverage for women after childbirth. Advocates for low-income women say extending coverage to one year could improve health outcomes in a state with a high maternal mortality rate.
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