Jason Shelton

Jason Shelton


Mississippi has a rich cultural history. We are the birthplace of some of the best writers, artists, and musicians in the world. Most of American popular music can trace its roots to right here in the Magnolia State. Many world renowned athletes, scholars, and entrepreneurs are from right here. We are the most church going and charitable state in the nation. We lead the way in shipbuilding, space technology, furniture manufacturing, and the production of automobiles. We have much to celebrate and much to be proud of as Mississippians.

Additionally, we have in many areas made great progress from our turbulent past. The shortcomings in our state’s past are undeniable and we can only strive to work together to make sure that the present and the future are better than the past.

It is long past time for us to work together as Mississippians to make our great state a wonderful place for every Mississippian where we all have the same opportunities to create better lives for ourselves and our families.

One thing that can be done sooner rather than later to help move us forward is for the state of Mississippi to finally pass equal pay for women legislation. Currently, we are the only state in the entire United States of America that has failed to pass an equal pay law. This is a failure of leadership. This failure to act by our elected leaders makes it more difficult to recruit business and industry to Mississippi. The failure to act by those same leaders decreases the likelihood that major national and international employers will want to call Mississippi home.

As reported in a January 2018 Clarion Ledger article: “[a]ccording to The Gender Wage Gap in Mississippi, a paper published in December 2016 by the University Research Center in Jackson, women in Mississippi earn 27 percent less than men in the state. Annually, women in Mississippi earn $9,600 a year less than men in the state.”

There has been a lot of bi-partisan support for the passage of such an act. State Representative Tracy Arnold, who is a Republican and a pastor from Booneville, has fought for this legislation to be passed in the Mississippi House of Representatives. Republican and Democratic candidates for attorney general and lieutenant governor and the Democratic candidate for govenor support equal pay for women legislation.

Equal pay for equal work is legally and morally the right thing. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where one could justify opposing legislation that would make it illegal under state law to pay a woman less than a man for the same work.

Sometimes doing the right thing is easy and supporting legislation to guarantee equal pay for women is one of those things. It is the right thing morally, legally, and economically. It’s time to elect state leaders who unequivocally support equal pay for women legislation.

JASON SHELTON is the mayor of Tupelo. Readers can contact him at jason.shelton@tupeloms.gov

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