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.
Rep. Nick Bain, R-Corinth, 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.
The bill would save taxpayers and direct more funding into the classroom. The governor’s current salary is set at $122,160. The current superintendent’s salary is $300,000.
In an interview with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, 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.”
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.
In addition, the bill has a specific provision that the difference in the amount of money saved by the salary reduction be deposited into a fund. This fund would be explicitly allocated to classroom costs instead of administrative costs. In this way, the bill would be proactively working to put the funds back to the students instead of the money just being absorbed into the state education budget.
Such actions from Bain are applaudable. In 2021, MCPP released the “Fat Cat Report.” The report outlined the top 50 state and local government salaries in Mississippi and found that many administrators within the education system in Mississippi made among the highest government 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.
Hats off to Bain for his leading the way for Mississippi to have more accountability and fiscal responsibility.