(Jackson, MS): Mississippi has some of the highest paid public officials in America, despite being the poorest state, according to a new report out today. 

Published by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, the Fat Cat Report offers a summary of the top 50 highest paid public officials in the state along with further data analysis.

The report reveals:

  • Dozens of public officials in Mississippi are paid more than the State Governor ($122,160 per year), who does not even rank in the top fifty highest paid officials.
  • Mississippi’s State Superintendent for Public Education earns $300,000 per year, making them one of the highest paid State Superintendents in America.
  • Almost half the highest paid public officials listed are education bureaucrats.
  • 61 State District Superintendents make more that the State Governor.  
  • Of the 24 School District Superintendents that feature on our list of the top highest paid public officials in Mississippi, the average salary is $175,000 – more than the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court earns.  The average annual salary of these 24 Superintendents is the approximate equivalent to:
  • 5 teachers 
  • 4 registered nurses
  • 4 State Troopers
  • 4 – 5 average Mississippian workers incomes
  • B-rated Corinth School Board District paid their Superintendent $210,000 to run a school board with a mere 2,700 students.   (2019 Median household income in Corinth was $38,460). Contrast that to A-rated Long Beach School District, who only paid their Superintendent half that amount ($115,000) with 3,161 enrolled.
  • F-rated Holmes School District Superintendent was paid $170,000, yet the district is consistently F-rated and had a mere 3,094 students enrolled.  Median per capita income in Holmes county is about $17,000 – a tenth of the amount paid to the Holmes District superintendent. 
  • Tupelo Public School District paid their Superintendent $209,000 to run a school board with less than 7,000 students, while Desoto paid their Superintendent less to run one nearly five times the size – and with a better ranking.
  • Capping all School District Superintendent pay below what the Governor earns would produce taxpayer savings of $2 million a year, enough to pay for 50 additional teachers. 
  • Some of the highest paid School Superintendents are from School Districts with some of the lowest student numbers and worst academic standards.
  • Proximity to the taxpayer seems to offer some safeguard against soaring salaries.

The Fat Cat report compares what top public officials make to the salaries of average nurses, State Troopers, and workers across the Magnolia state.  

“Mississippi taxpayers have a right to know how much their top public officials earn,” explained Douglas Carswell, CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. Clearly some officials produce value for the money they are paid. But many don’t.”

“How much should public officials be paid, and who should decide? The key is public accountability.”

“Our report suggests that officials appointed by boards tend to have the most inflated taxpayer-funded salaries. Officials that are either elected, or in close proximity to taxpayers, generally have lower salaries.”

“This suggests to me that direct accountability to the taxpayers is the best way of ensuring that public officials give taxpayers value for money, and our report makes some suggestions on what we could do to ensure that Mississippi taxpayers don’t get taken for a ride.”

Read the report in full HERE.

For more information or to request an interview with Mississippi Center for Public Policy CEO Douglas Carswell, please reach out to Hunter Estes, estes@mspolicy.org.