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Report to the People

By Tommy Reynolds
District 33 Representative

The 2019 regular session concluded March 29, a week earlier than expected. Central to the discussion in both chambers in the last few days was the proposed teacher pay raise. You may recall that in earlier floor debate the House had amended the original proposal in Senate Bill 2770 of $1,000 over two years to $4,000 over two years. 

The Senate refused to accept our amendment, and the measure went to conference committee. When it emerged, the raise had been changed to $1,500 for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

A number of us voted to recommit the conference report with instructions to reinstate the House’s $4,000 amendment. That effort failed. While several of my colleagues choose to vote “No” in protest on final passage, others of us felt that if we stepped away from this opportunity for a pay raise for our teachers, it would be another year before they received any help at all. I voted for it.

Importantly, the measure contains a $1,500 raise in the base pay for teacher assistants. This group of hard working, essential partners in the education of our youngsters had last received a raise in 2006 for $500. That brought their base salaries up to $12,500 per year. With this $1,500 raise, they will now be making $14,000 per year, still much below what they deserve. I was serving in the House when we created the position of teacher assistant. We realized then that in order to be as effective as possible, our classroom teachers needed to concentrate on academic instruction and needed assistance with other requirements of classrooms. 

Teacher assistants have proven themselves to be essential contributors to the success of our elementary students. I will work to increase their pay to an even more reasonable amount during the coming legislative term.

Both houses of the legislature passed the final version of House Bill 1352, which was titled “The Criminal Justice Reform Act.”  The Bill will encourage and help to facilitate “Intervention Courts” under the Circuit Court which will include mental health courts and veterans courts, and would make mental health courts no longer a pilot program but a program of statewide effect. The purpose of mental health courts will be to help insure that, compatible with public safety, mentally ill persons are properly dealt with by the criminal justice system so they can get necessary treatment and avoid incarceration where appropriate.

If I can be of service, please call on me.  My office address is P. O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS 38921, and my office telephone number is (662) 647-3203.  My home address is 1720 North Main Street, Water Valley, MS  38965. My email address is

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