Snowden says education priority for Legislature
By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
June 12, 2001
Despite a barrage of criticism from teachers and administrators, State Rep. Greg Snowden said Monday the state budget shows education is the Legislature's top priority.
Armed with budgetary facts and figures for the 2002 fiscal year, Snowden said nearly 60 percent of Mississippi's $3.5 billion general fund budget will go to education.
He said he wanted to show area leaders how committed he and his legislative colleagues have been to education despite the state's financial hardships and criticism from teacher unions and Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.
Part of that includes tens of millions of dollars in "one time" funding to make the first year of the state's teacher pay raise plan a reality. Mississippi has a five year plan to raise teacher salaries to the Southeastern average by the 2005-06 school year.
Lauderdale County School Superintendent David Little agreed with Snowden that teacher pay needed to be increased, but said it was being done so at the expense of other valuable school employees, who won't be seeing an increase in salaries.
Dr. Kathy Baxter, dean of general education at Meridian Community College, asked about when possible funding for higher education raises could also be available. Baxter said by going for years straight without raises it was getting difficult for colleges to fill vacant slots.
Snowden said the truth about the teacher pay raise plan is that some state employees are being selected as more valuable over others.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at email@example.com.