Wife touts governor’s proposal|[3/4/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 4, 2005

When Gov. Haley Barbour was elected, Mississippi first lady Marsha Barbour said she decided children and education were where she would focus her attention.

Barbour was in town Thursday to talk to the Vicksburg Rotary Club.

“Haley’s education reform plan is the most comprehensive since Gov. William Winter’s,” Barbour said.

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Giving a brief outline of the plan, Barbour said the focus will be on making improvements in classrooms across the state.

“To have quality teaching, you have to have quality teachers,” she said.

To get those quality teachers, Barbour said, the plan calls for pay increases keyed to teacher performance with the best teachers receiving the higher salaries. The governor has presented a plan to retain statutory 8 percent raises for teachers and teacher aides in August, although many in the Legislature believe they cannot be funded.

Another key feature of the plan, she said, is to increase the amount of money available for classroom supplies and for textbooks.

“Those will be fully funded,” she said, adding the state has not fully funded textbook purchases in years.

“Haley has also asked that they curb administrative costs,” Barbour said. The governor’s package stresses education reforms not related to spending as well, she said.

Switching subjects, Barbour said the governor is working hard to cut back on state spending and the size of state government and believes Medicaid costs can be contained. “It’s taking money away from other programs,” she said.