Education will get shorted again

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, April 16, 2016

It appears the Mississippi Legislature will not increase funding for K-12 education in the upcoming budget. Top budget writers on Saturday said they will allot enough money to keep the K-12 school funding formula level in the budget year beginning July 1, The Associated Press reported.

Level funding means the Mississippi Adequate Education Program will not be fully funded. To do so would require a $200 million increase, according to media reports.

The MAEP formula has only been fully funded twice since it was created.

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Though a referendum to force lawmakers to fully fund MAEP failed in November, plenty of Mississippians were in favor of more education funding. The referendum didn’t necessarily fail because voters were against the idea of investing in public education. Some voters were confused by competing referendums. Some simply didn’t like the idea of potentially turning over budget power to a judge.

There was talk by lawmakers of increasing education funding, even if MAEP wasn’t fully funded, but lower-than-expected state revenues obviously derailed that idea. Lawmakers are cutting about $73 million from spending plans, AP reported.

There was still talk among lawmakers Thursday about more tax cuts, according to media reports. Cutting revenue in the form of tax breaks at a time when state revenue is already down is just foolish.

We know writing the state’s $6.2 billion budget is not a simple task, but we also know that prioritizing tax breaks over education is irresponsible.