On Monday, November 16th, Governor Barbour presented his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11), the coming fiscal year. As expected, the governor’s budget assumes a very bleak revenue picture for the coming year and includes deep cuts to state services.
The governor’s FY11 budget does not spare K-12 education. It calls for funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) at a level that is $237-million, or 10.9%, below the FY10 (current year) appropriation. The Mississippi Department of Education has estimated that the cost to adequately fund schools in the coming year, according to the MAEP formula, will be approximately $61-million above the current-year cost. Therefore, the governor’s budget proposal would actually underfund the MAEP by almost $300-million. Governor Barbour’s budget proposal uses $78-million of the state’s Rainy Day Fund. According to the Department of Finance & Administration, the balance in the Rainy Day Fund as of the end of August totaled almost $306-million.
Governor Barbour has proposed a number of measures that he says will mitigate the effects of the budget cuts. His proposals include:
- Reducing the number of school districts by 1/3 through school district consolidation
- Moving the Mississippi School of the Arts from Brookhaven to the campus of the Mississippi School for Math and Science
- Having local school districts draw down their reserve accounts (many districts do not have reserve accounts)
Click here to see Governor Barbour’s full budget proposal. It is important to remember that the governor’s recommendation is just that – a recommendation. The Mississippi Legislature has constitutional authority over the state budget, and it is the Legislature that will make the final budget appropriations.