Public Hearing on Education Funding

Should the state be required to fully fund education through the Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding formula? That’s the question voters will be asked to decide in November.
Should courts be involved in ensuring the state Legislature funds education adequately? That’s the basic premise of the debate over the Initiative 42 ballot measure. Tonight, it was a packed house at the Secretary of State’s public hearing to hear both sides of the issue. “They’re very close to each other. Difference in “effective” and there’s a Chancery Court in one,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, “So, people need to educate themselves and that’s what part of this process is.”
Citizen sponsored Initiative 42 seeks to require the state to fully fund the MAEP formula, a law created by the Legislature in 1997 to determine adequate funding for school districts across the state. MAEP has only been fully funded twice since its enactment. Initiative 42 would also authorize the state courts to enforce it.
Patsy Brumfield, communications director for 42 for Better Schools, said, “The court is not meant to play any role if the Legislature will abide by the Constitution and I believe that they will. So, if the Legislature does its job and obeys the new education funding amendment in the Constitution, we don’t ever go to court.”
Earlier this year, Republicans outvoted Democrats to add Alternative 42A on the ballot as well. Alternative 42A would allow the Legislature to fund schools how they see fit without the interference of state courts. Proponents of Alternative 42A believe Initiative 42 will take the power away from the Legislature. “The alternative keeps the appropriation process with the Legislature. It doesn’t kick the authority to the judge and it keeps our tax dollars flowing in a way that we, as people, have a voice through our elected representatives,” said Frank Corder.
Tonight, there were predominantly more proponents for Initiative 42 in attendance than those against it. While opinions are strong on both sides of the coin, in the end it will be up to the voter on November 3.
If you were unable to make tonight’s public hearing the Secretary of State’s office is encouraging you to visit their website where all the comments from tonight will be posted.

Categories: Local News, News

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