Mississippi’s Fat Cats are Getting Fatter

By Douglas Carswell
September 19, 2023

Mississippi’s top 50 public officials now cost the taxpayer over $10 million a year for the first time.  The state’s top 50 highest paid officials saw their salaries increase 5 percent from an average of $193,678 last year to $205,000 this year.

According to the 2023 Mississippi Fat Cat report, published by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Mississippi now has some of the highest paid public officials in America.

Mississippi’s State Superintendent for Public Education has made over $300,000 per year for a number of years now.  Mississippi also now has two local school superintendents each earning about a quarter of a million dollars a year.

Forty percent of those on the Fat Cat list are school superintendents, who enjoyed bumper pay rises.  Those school superintendents on the Fat Cat list received an average 14% pay increase, taking them to over $200,000 a year. 

The $10.3 million cost salary of Mississippi’s 50 highest-paid public officials would be enough to pay the salaries of:

  • 189 nurses (at $54,284 per year) 
  • 178 State Troopers (at $57,680 per year) 
  • 191 teachers (at $53,699 per year)
  • 227 Mississippians receiving the median income ($45,180 per year) 

Mississippi’s 50 Fat Cats are paid more than America’s 50 state governors.  While the 50 Mississippi Fat Cats receive a combined total of $10.3 million a year, the combined salary of America’s 50 state governors is a mere $7.4 million.

The Humphreys County Superintendent, for example, with a mere 1,257 students, is paid more than the governor of Texas, with a population of 30 million.

The Jackson Public Schools Superintendent, who oversees a district with approximately 20,000 students, makes more than the Governor of Florida, which has a population of more than 21 million.

Fat Cat pay does not necessarily reflect public service performance.  Some of the highest-paid public officials preside over some of the worst education outcomes. 

The Fat Cat report acknowledges that some highly paid officials provide good value for money for the taxpayer, and that high salaries in the public sector are not necessarily a bad thing. 

However, the report also recommends changes to ensure that there is accountability when it comes to top public sector pay.  Suggestions include:

  • Requiring a greater degree of oversight by the legislature when it comes to significant salary increases.
  • Using a state-mandated formula to calculate the maximum allowable salary for school superintendents.
  • Restricting the amount of education funding that can be spent on administration.
  • Potentially amending Section 25-3-39 of the Mississippi code to remove many of the exemptions to restrictions on unapproved limits.

A link to the report can be found here.


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