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By Jeff Amy

Associated Press

BILOXI – The Mississippi Association of Educators is pushing for a blanket pay raise for the state’s public school teachers, but Gov. Phil Bryant is holding firm in his opposition, saying he only wants to give pay raises based on merit.

Bryant reiterated his preference for raises based on test scores and teacher evaluations Monday.

The Republican governor’s comments follow a speech Friday by Joyce Helmick, the president of the Mississippi Association of Educators. The leader of the teacher union says she believes lawmakers have enough money in 2014 to fully fund the state’s K-12 education budget and give teachers a raise if they choose.

Mississippi teachers made the second-lowest average salary in the nation in 2011-2012 at $41,646, according to a study by the National Education Association.

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