K-12 and Mississippi’s State Budget

In FY 2012, Education Funding Continues to Move Backward

Funding for public schools continues to decrease, both in actual dollars and as a percent of the overall state budget.  For Fiscal Year 2012 (school year 2011-2012), school funding was cut by an additional $14-million, with $5.5-million coming from the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). This means that, for FY2012, the MAEP is underfunded by $237,386,693.

State funding for public education declined in Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) for the fourth year in a row while, overall, the state budget increased.

From Fiscal Year 2011 to Fiscal Year 2012, of 16 major budget categories (state agencies) in the state budget, six saw growth in their appropriations. See chart. During that same time, funding for K-12 education declined by 0.7%, while the total state budget grew by 0.03%.  One year earlier, from FY10 to FY11, education suffered a cut of 11.94% as compared to a cut of 9.36% for the whole budget. See chart.

Trend in Education Funding

A look at several years preceding FY12 shows a troubling trend: K-12 education appears to be slipping in terms of priority, taking the brunt of budget cuts. Since 2008, total state appropriations to K-12 have decreased by 9.7%, while the whole state budget has decreased by only 3.6%.  That means that the K-12 budget has suffered cuts at more than twice the rate of the whole state budget. See chart. This begs the question: Is education really a priority of the State Legislature, or is the state’s budget being balanced on the backs of our children?

Since 2008, the MAEP has been underfunded by a total of $720,000,000, and over the last 5 years, total underfunding of school budgets (MAEP, teacher supply fund, public school building fund, etc.) is about $1-billion. See chart.

Prior to the recent four-year period of budget cuts, education funding had benefited from a four-year growth period, although it grew at a lesser pace than other state agencies. From FY05 to FY08, K-12 education funding grew by 15% compared to an increase of 39% in total state appropriations. In only one of those years, FY08, did schools actually receive the full amount of funding required by law for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP).  While the Legislature appropriated full funding of the MAEP again in FY09, that funding was reduced significantly by mid-year budget cuts due to the recession.

When compared to school funding in other states, Mississippi is also lagging. We continue to invest considerably less in our school children than do other states, with a per-pupil spending ranking of 46th in the nation.

How Budget Cuts Affect Children & Communities

A continued decline in K-12 education funding should be of great concern to Mississippians. We are in danger of solving our short-term budget problems with cuts that will create an even worse long-term problem – one from which it will take decades to recover. Studies show that, when a child receives an ineffective education for more than two years in a row, the child never fully recovers what s/he would have learned had s/he been provided consistently high quality education.

Research is clear: jobs and economic development, low crime rates, lower demand for public assistance, and every quality of life issue imaginable are all dependent upon a high quality public education system.

Source:  State of Mississippi Budget FY08, FY09, FY10, FY11, FY12

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