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Rep. Noah Sanford
The 2021 legislative session adjourned for the year on Thursday, April 1. Unless we are called back for a special session, we will not return until January.
The largest part of the state budget was finalized in the last week, as latest revenue numbers came in. Most state employees that had not previously received a raise in the last few years were given a three percent raise. Teachers and teacher assistants will also receive a raise. BlueCross, which has the state contract for state employee insurance, increased the premium for each state employee, and this increase was factored into each budget.
It was a very good year for public education. In addition to the teacher pay raise, funding for early childhood learning collaboratives was doubled, from $8 million to $16 million; career and tech programs were allotted an additional $3.8 million; and a large increase was provided to the classroom supply fund and the Schools for the Blind and Deaf.
One of the most consequential proposals this year would have eliminated the state income tax and cut the tax on groceries in half, from 7% to 3.5%. To make up the lost revenue, it called for an increase most other sales taxes by 2.5 cents per dollar. Though the proposal passed the House by a large margin, it stalled in the Senate, with Senate leadership committing to study the state’s overall tax structure during the summer and fall and to come back with recommendations for the 2022 legislative session.
The Fairness Act—which prevents biological males from competing in female sports on the K-12 or university level—has now been signed into law, as has legislation which would make it easier for those moving to Mississippi to get their occupational license transferred from their home states and issued here.
The Mississippi Computer Science and Cyber Education Act would require that K-12 schools teach computer science. In the event a school is unable to hire a teacher to provide lessons in-person, the state Department of Education would have courses that could be taught virtually. Many schools in the state already offer computer science courses, but nearly half do not. For better or worse, this is the way that the world is moving, and Mississippi students should not be behind their peers when seeking jobs, many of which are in the computer/tech industry.
It is possible that we are called back to handle part of the federal monies flowing to the state for COVID-19 relief. I appreciate the opportunity to serve. Please contact me if I can be of assistance.
Rep. Noah Sanford represents parts of Covington, Simpson, and Jefferson Davis Counties in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He can be reached at 601-765-4122 or NSanford@house.ms.gov.
MageeNews.com is an online news source covering Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.