The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) is recommending that public schools be underfunded by $180.9-million in the 2017-2018 school year.
The budget proposed by the committee provides $180.9-million less than what the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) law says is needed to provide a basic education for our children. The JLBC wants to add $20.4-million in merit pay for high performing districts or districts that improve their ratings at least one letter grade while stripping 14.62% from the budget of the Schools for the Blind and the Deaf and reducing funding for other parts of the General Education budget by $8.4-million. General Education funds cover programs such as school improvement for struggling districts, teacher professional development, the literacy initiative, and pre-k.
The JLBC budget is a starting point from which budget negotiations will begin when the Legislature convenes the 2017 session. It includes extensive cuts for most agencies and an overall budget reduction of $195.3-million. Revenue has been on a downward trend largely due to repeated tax cuts, many for large out-of-state corporations, and a sluggish economy. As a result, Mississippi taxpayers are seeing the services they rely on diminished, including public education.
Mississippi children are as bright and full of promise as the children in any other state, and they deserve the same education resources that other states provide their students. Our children are worth our investment. Thank goodness they have you to stand up for them!