Efforts to Cap State Superintendent's Salary

By Matthew Nicaud
January 18, 2022

The issues of government administrative costs can often get enormously complicated, but in some cases, the issues can be fairly easy to grasp. For example, despite having a lower population than most other states, and a much smaller education budget, Mississippi’s Superintendent of Education receives among the highest salary of any state superintendent in the country.

Representative Nick Bain has introduced a bill to change that. House Bill 415 is a bill to cap the salary of the State Superintendent of Education to no more than 150% of the Governor’s salary. Senators Dennis DeBar, Angela Burkes Hill, and Chris McDaniel have introduced similar legislation in the upper chamber. The bills would save taxpayers money and direct more funding into the classroom. The Governor’s current salary is set at $122,160. The Superintendent’s salary is $300,000. 

In an interview with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Representative Bain noted: “For me it is hard to justify her making that much. We have teachers in the classrooms with our children, who work their fingers to the bone, and they barely get by. It’s time we take a hard look at how she gets paid.” Representative Bain’s bill would lower the salary to a maximum of $183,240. This would place the Superintendent’s salary closer in line with the heads of other agencies in the state and the state education superintendents of other states.

Such actions by the legislature are applaudable. In 2021, MCPP released the “Fat Cat Report,” which outlined the top 50 state and local government salaries in Mississippi and found that many administrators within the education system made amongst the highest salaries in the state.

This coincides with an earlier report released by the State Auditor, which found that administrative costs have seen an overall increase. The report concluded that such funds could have been put back into the classroom, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. It is also important to note that while the costs of education superintendents and other administrators were included in the increased costs, such cost increases do not include actual teachers, which are categorized as an inside-the-classroom cost.

While government agencies and administrators often insist on the need for increased funding, a good place to start might just be by decreasing the salaries of overpaid administrators. There is no defensible case for Mississippi’s State Superintendent of Education to make far more than the superintendents of other states, particularly when the state has consistently had education budget challenges.

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