State Lawmakers Recap 2019 Legislative Session
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- From giving teachers and state employees pay raises to passing one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation, lawmakers were busy the past three months trying to move the state in the right direction.
State representatives Rob Roberson and Cheikh Taylor said they’re happy with the work that was accomplished at the state capital this year.
However, the two admit there’s still more work to be done.
“I think they went pretty good,” said Roberson, District 43 State Representative. “You always have things that you enjoy doing and seeing that make it through, and there are things that you don’t necessarily like to see through, but that’s with every session.”
“We’ve had some upswings, we had some things that we can be proud of that we took home, but there was a lot of dissension, there was a lot of skulduggery, and hiding money in bills and things of that nature,” said Taylor, District 38 State Representative.
During the session, Taylor and Roberson co-sponsored a bill that would allow the city of Starkville to implement at one percent hotel and restaurant tax that would go towards its Parks and Recreation Department.
Along with that, both lawmakers said other positives from this session is the fact that teachers and state employees will now see pay raises.
However, the two have opposing views about the dollar amounts of the salary hike for educators.
“I’m glad we were able to get our teachers something, but was it enough no,” Taylor expressed. “I do not want to send the impression that it will be enough. Until we get our teachers to our southeastern average, the state of Mississippi has not done enough for education.”
“Some of the information that’s out there suggests that people voted against a $4,000 pay raise and that there was actually money set aside for that and that’s just not true, that’s not what occurred,” said Roberson. “I know that’s not what some people want to make it, but that’s the reality.”
The District 43 Representative said one takeaway from the session is he would’ve like to have seen more focus on education and doing away with some of the state testing.
“I think we’re probably testing too much,” Roberson explained. “Some of that testing is required from the state level, but some of that testing is practice tests that’s being done at a local level. In all honesty, I think we would be far more suited to let our teachers teach, there’s got to be a trust there. These are professionals and we should trust them to go out here and do that job.”
Taylor expressed that his biggest disappointment in the session was the manner in which the bill to help fund charter schools was presented to house members.
“We were given about 45 minutes to digest about a 150 page document, and the people who introduced it knew that they were owed $2 million in charter school funding in that bill, so without knowing we all voted for it and it almost passed unanimously,” said Taylor.
With the legislative session over, lawmakers are now back home gearing up for their next challenge, elections.
Party Primaries are August 6th and the General Election is November 5th.