Simple, the Mississippi Legislature refuses to abide by its own law, denying our public schools the promised financial support they need for our children to succeed.
Here’s the background: To avoid an equity lawsuit in 1997, the Legislature passed what’s called the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which established a “floor” formula to ensure that each public school district receives enough financial support to adequately fund its K-12 education programs. But, the Legislature has not kept its promise – MAEP has been fully funded only two times since then.
Since FY2009, our public schools have been shortchanged $1.7 billion by the Mississippi Legislature. That’s enough money for thousands of new teachers and reading coaches, millions of textbooks and computers, and needed school repairs and renovations.
Passage of Initiative 42 will strengthen our constitution and force the Legislature to follow the law it passed 18 years ago.
Our children cannot be ready for good jobs without a good education. Our state cannot support good jobs without a good workforce. We must make sure our children and our business community have that chance.
Very simply, it is a dirty trick to confuse voters and kill the real initiative, 42. This trick initiative, Initiative 42-A, will provide no additional funding for K-12 and maintains the status quo. Initiative 42, however, requires the state to keep its 18-year-old promise to fund an “adequate and efficient” system of free public schools.
The legislative alternative called 42-A, is a slap in the faces of the nearly 200,000 citizens from every county in Mississippi and both political parties who signed the petitions and showing they want change. In the end, the alternative is a political ploy to kill Initiative 42 by confusing voters and causing neither initiative to receive the overall required number of votes (at least 40% of the total cast in the top-voted race).
No. Mississippi’s administrative costs are at or below the national average. If you ask local school leaders, they will tell you that full funding will help them reduce the student-to-teacher ratio, acquire needed technology, replace old buses and upgrade crumbling facilities. They also say that full funding could help our school districts avoid local bond issues and increased property taxes. In many districts where administrative costs have risen, it’s because of unfunded mandates from new federal and state requirements. In some districts, instructional spending is down because of teacher/aide cuts forced by tough financial times during the Recession and underfunding by the state.
No, absolutely not. If the Legislature cannot fully fund MAEP right away, Initiative 42 proposes a conservative, responsible method to phase-in funding across several years using NEW money from economic growth, not from other agencies’ budgets or tax increases. Our state’s economy usually grows 2-3 percent every year. If we can require adequate school funding from that NEW money, over a few years it will build until we have full funding for our schools.
It’s the “dirty trick” Initiative 42-A that’s likely to cause a tax increase. If the state fails to live up to its promised K-12 funding, our local governments – cities and counties – will be forced to consider raising your local property taxes to bridge the financial gaps.
It’s a coalition of Mississippi public schools supporters and organizations, which know that our state and our school children cannot reach their potential without well-funded public school systems.
The movement began as Better Schools, Better Jobs in 2013 when some of these education supporters met to ask what could be done to help better fund our schools. The campaign seeks passage of Initiative 42, a constitutional amendment to require the Legislature to keep the promise it made in 1997 to adequately fund our K-12 schools. Initiative 42 offers a phased-in method to reach full funding without any new taxes – to use new growth in the state’s general fund to build K-12 resources and keep them there.
Nearly 200,000 Mississippians signed the Initiative 42 petition to place the amendment language on the Nov. 3, 2015 statewide ballot so that Mississippi’s voters can decide whether they want their children’s public schools adequately funded.