Workforce Development & Education
The Comprehensive Career and Technical Education Reform Act will provide a comprehensive approach to improving career pathways for Mississippi students.
This legislation addresses several recommendations outlined in the Securing Mississippi’s Future: Vision for Economic Growth plan. MEC worked closely with Accelerate Mississippi – the state’s office of workforce development – to develop the recommendations.
HB 1388 bill calls for:
- The creation of career coaches’ programs to be administered through Accelerate Mississippi.
- An alignment of career technical education courses across K-12 and community colleges.
- An audit of CTE programs in both K-12 and community colleges, which includes a return-on-investment analysis.
- The administration of career-readiness assessment (ACT WorkKeys) for all qualified students.
- Creating a special expert citizen license to allow industry-recognized certification for certain CTE instructors.
- Requiring school districts to provide notice to all incoming middle school and junior high students of career technical education pathways.
Funding to support this legislation also was approved. HB 1600, an act for the purpose of funding K-12 educational-related activities provided $1 million for the administration of the WorkKeys assessment. HB 1517, the appropriation for the Office for Workforce Development, includes $8 million for career coaches.
Transitioning into the workforce should become easier for parolees under SB 2273. Lawmakers recently adopted a conference report for the bill that will allow an offender's employer to submit timesheets, proof of employment, and any required drug test to a parole officer. Additionally, an offender's employer is authorized to withhold statutorily required fees from the offender's paycheck in order to pay the Department of Corrections directly.
The Strategically Accelerating the Recruitment and Retention of Teachers (START) Act of 2022 is an almost $250 million investment for teachers, increasing their salaries effective for the 2022-2023 school year, surpassing the regional and national averages.
HB 530 will:
- Increase the average teacher's salary by $5,140 (Teachers Assistants, $2,000).
- Increase salary $1,200 to $1,350 every five years (Depending on certification level).
- Provide a $2,500 increase at 25-year mark of service.
- Be effective for the 2022-2023 school year.
The Mississippi Flexible Tax Incentive Act (MFlex), a performance-based, incentive program aimed at attracting businesses to Mississippi will establish standards and requirements for the Mississippi Development Authority in an effort to provide flexibility for the kind of incentives available to businesses for economic development projects.
Requirements for businesses to participate are as follows:
- Creation of a minumum10 full-time jobs.
- Capital investment of $2.5 million.
- Publicly report employee average wages and benefit package.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Additional funds were allocated for the upcoming fiscal year to address infrastructure concerns.
- $40 million for the Infrastructure Match Fund. This is to be used to draw down federal dollars now available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress last year.
- $45 million for the Maintenance Project Fund to provide funding for the pavement program of the MDOT three-year plan.
- $35 million for the Capacity Program to provide funding for capacity projects in the MDOT three-year plan.
- $10 million for the Mississippi Ports Improvement Fund.
- $100 million for the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund. The ERBR fund was created during the 2018 special session focused on transportation.
HB 1353 creates the "2022 Local Improvements Projects Fund” which includes approximately $60 million of infrastructure projects in more than 100 communities across the state.
Personal Income Tax Reduction
Gov. Tate Reeves has signed the largest tax cut in history, resulting in a flat rate of 4% on personal income by 2026.
Mississippi Tax Freedom Act of 2022 will phase in the tax cut, equal to $545 million over four years.
HB 531 will:
- In 2023, the 4% tax bracket will be eliminated, meaning there will be a 5% tax on all taxable personal income over $10,000.
- In 2024, there will be a 4.6 % tax on all taxable personal income over $10,000.
- In 2025, there will be a 4.4% tax on all taxable personal income over $10,000.
- In 2026 and beyond, there will be a 4% tax on all taxable personal income over $10,000.
The bill also includes language for the legislature to review by 2026 to determine if further cuts are necessary and possibly eliminate the income tax. If there are no other changes by other states before 2026, this will make Mississippi the second-lowest state in the Southeast that imposes a personal income tax. It would also put us the fifth-lowest nationally.
General Legislation: Office of Broadband, Vaccine Mandate Restrictions & Equal Pay
Mississippi lawmakers recently agreed to adopt the conference reports for the following bills:
Mississippi Broadband Accessibility Act - HB 1029, an act that will create the Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi. The office would provide oversite to help ensure access to underserved communities and assist with state-related broadband projects.
Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate - HB 1509, an act that will prohibit any state or government entity from discriminating against an individual based upon their COVID-19 vaccine status. Private businesses are not impacted, other than businesses must acknowledge individuals with religious exemptions.
Mississippi Equal Pay Act - HB 770, an act that closes the pay gap between men and women. The bill will require employers to pay female employees at the same wages as their male counterparts while working in the same establishment and performing the same jobs.