HB 1476 – MAEP Grossly Underfunded Again

Enough is enough! This morning, the House Appropriations Committee passed HB 1476, the K-12 funding bill, and once again, schools are massively underfunded. HB 1476 contains no increase in the MAEP beyond a $25-million allocation for the first half-year of a proposed teacher pay raise.

This bill underfunds the MAEP by $265-million.
The economy has recovered.In fact, state revenue has surpassed 2008 levels – the last year that schools were fully funded. But unbelievably, House Bill 1476 funds schools almost $100-million below what they received in 2008. State revenue is higher than pre-recession levels, but school funding is lower. It’s time for legislators to get as serious about providing adequate school funding as schools have had to be about dealing with budget shortfalls.

Click here to see how much your school district has been underfunded in just the last six years.

This bill will be taken up on the House floor tomorrow, so we need to get our message to our representatives right away.

Our schools have been operating on shoestring budgets ever since the recession hit in 2009. Parents and educators have been patiently waiting for the economy to rebound and for legislators to make good on their school funding promises.

What happens when schools are forced to survive on shoestring budgets? Since 2009, over 2,000 teachers, librarians, counselors, principals, and other education personnel have lost their jobs, classrooms have become more crowded, intervention programs have been lost, gifted classes have been cut, professional development has been decimated… the list goes on and on. School districts have used their emergency reserve funds to plug budget holes as much as possible, but those reserves are largely gone. It’s time for our legislators to step up.

Over the last two years, legislators have piled more unfunded – or partially funded – mandates on our schools while patting themselves on the back for “increasing” school funding. The truth is that their “increased funding” has been directed to partially pay for new programs they have mandated – programs that cost our schools even more to implement than was provided in the “increase.”

To make matters even worse, some legislators want to give the fully funded MAEP amount to unaccountable private schools (even to private schools out of state) through vouchers, while starving our public schools. As one of our TPC members said, “This reflects a real hostility toward public education.” Tell legislators enough is enough! Remind them to say no to vouchers and yes to better-funded public schools.

Please ask your friends and co-workers to join our effort. Many legislators agree with us that schools need better funding, but they will need lots of encouragement to resist the pressure to continue the status quo of massive underfunding of public schools. Please make those calls today and ask your legislators to stand up for our kids and their schools.  

I’ll be watching the funding bill closely and reporting to you on its progress, and I will let you know when floor debate begins tomorrow (the House convenes at 2 p.m.). You can watch it via live streaming at http://www.legislature.ms.gov/Pages/Web-Cast.aspx. 

In the meantime, please make those calls and keep watching your inbox for information on other bills. We will have to remain vigilant to defeat the private school vouchers and ensure that public funding goes to public schools.

Please ask your representative to stop forcing schools to live on a shoestring budget. It’s time to adequately fund public schools.

Click here to find contact information for the legislators who represent your school district.

Ask Speaker Gunn to show his commitment to our children by stopping the “shoestring budget” approach to education. You can reach Speaker Gunn at 601.359.3300.

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