A House bill designed to encourage retired teachers to return to the classroom has one Mississippi lawmaker calling for careful scrutiny of the proposal. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
The Mississippi Great Teachers Act of 2019 would allow retired teachers to receive their pensions and work in the classroom full-time. Lawmakers say its one of the incentives they've come up with to address the state's teacher shortage. House Republican Richard Bennett of Long Beach chairs the Education Committee.
"Teachers that are qualified that have been there for years, some of our best teachers are retiring and they're going to private schools to teach. We need to get them in our public schools, keep them in our public schools," said Bennett.
House Democrat Gregory Holloway of Hazlehurst is on the education Committee and supports the bill. But he's concerned about the effect on the state's public employee retirement system known as PERS. He says the agency's board already announced it's increasing the amount employers pay into the system from 15.7 percent to 17.4 percent monthly to shore up the fund. That change begins July 1, of this year.
"PERS is already not 100 percent funded as it should be and the legislature every year has to allocate funds to keep PERS solvent," said Holloway.
Holloway says now that the education committee passed the bill, House members will have to ensure there are no unintended consequences. Ray Higgins is executive director of PERS.
"We're currently reviewing the bill with state leadership, actuaries and outside tax counsel, just to ensure that the administration of the system remains sound," said Higgins.
Representative Holloway says he'll be following the measure closely.