For the last four years, K-12 education has suffered budget cuts at rates higher than the state budget as a whole. In fact, for the current budget year, K-12 funding decreased while funding for the overall state budget increased.
K-12’s share of the General Fund portion of the state budget has shrunk every year since 2008. K-12 funding represented 43.37% of the General Fund in Fiscal Year 2008; by Fiscal Year 2012 that share had decreased to 40.62%. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) is underfunded this year by $237-million.
Good News and Challenges
During last year’s election cycle, a majority of those elected who answered our members’ questions about education issues agreed that it is time to start closing the gap between the current level of funding and full funding of education. They also agreed to work toward fully funding the MAEP by the end of the 2014 Legislative Session.
As of the end of February, revenue in FY12 is $124-million above projections, a 4.9% year over year-to-date increase. Today, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee adopted a revenue estimate for FY13 that is $128.6-million above the previous estimate. Despite that positive news, legislators still face the challenge of constructing a FY13 budget with diminished one-time funds that have bolstered appropriations in the past. In FY12, the state used $589.9-million in one-time revenue sources to support recurring expenditures.
If “level funding” is appropriated to K-12 in FY13, the MAEP will be underfunded by $255-million in the 2012-2013 school year.
Last fall, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee recommended that MAEP remain at the same level of funding in FY13 that was appropriated for FY12 (no further cuts, no increases). Gov. Phil Bryant released his first Executive Budget Recommendation in February, proposing to cut the MAEP appropriation by $72.9-million for FY13. Under Gov. Bryant’s plan, the MAEP would be underfunded by $323-million in the 2012-2013 school year. Both of those recommendations are just that – recommendations. The actual budget will be determined in the next few weeks of the legislative session.
Education funding already has absorbed a larger percentage cut than other state agencies over the last several years. Since 2008, K-12 funding has been cut by 9.7%, while the state budget as a whole has been cut by 3.6%. Read more.