Public hearing on education initiatives 42/42a
Published 9:56 pm Saturday, September 5, 2015
Area residents will have an opportunity Tuesday to speak their minds about the two education funding initiatives that will be on ballots in November.
The Secretary of State’s Office is hosting a public hearing on the initiatives at Lampton Auditorium at the MS School of the Arts at 5:30 p.m.
Individuals wishing to speak either in support of, or against, Initiative 42 and/or alternative measure 42-A may sign in beginning at 5 p.m. Individuals may also submit written comments by emailing to: initiatives @sos.ms.gov
Seven other hearings have already taken place across the state.
Initiative 42 “would protect each child’s fundamental right to educational opportunity through the 12th grade by amending Section 201 of the Mississippi Constitution to require that the State must provide and the legislature must fund an adequate and efficient system of free public schools. This initiative would also authorize the chancery courts of this State to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.”
Initiative 42-A “is proposed as a legislative alternative measure to Initiative Measure No. 42 and would require the Legislature to provide, by general law, for the establishment, maintenance and support of an effective system of free public schools.”
The proposed constitutional amendment 42 got on the ballot through citizens’ petitions. Supporters say it’s intended to force lawmakers to fully fund an education budget formula that has been ignored most years since it was put into law in 1997. The initiative says people could sue the state if school funding falls short.
The Republican-controlled Legislature put an alternative, Initiative 42-A, on the same ballot, saying it would not allow lawsuits.
According to the Parents’ Campaign, the share of the state budget devoted to public education decreased this year to a low of 21 percent. Lawmakers have touted that the state is spending more on education that it has ever.
The Legislature approved an appropriations bill that includes $2.2 billion for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. That’s about $110 million more than last year’s MAEP allocation but still $211 million short of full funding.
School districts will have to use more than half of the MAEP million increase to fund legislatively mandated teacher pay raises.