Legislative Leadership Fabricating Reasons Not to Fund Schools

The same politicians who pledged to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Formula (MAEP) as soon as fiscally possible when they campaigned in 2011 are now finding any excuse they can to avoid adequately funding our children’s education – including making false accusations about our public schools. Click here to see just a few of the bogus claims they use to discredit the very schools that they as state leaders are bound by law to support.

Media outlets gave Governor Bryant, Lt. Governor Reeves, and Speaker Gunn opportunities to share their legislative priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session. Their priorities are revealing; read excerpts below.

From an Associated Press interview with Governor Bryant that ran in the Sun Herald:
2015 Legislative Priorities

Poverty is one Mississippi’s most difficult challenges. How do you improve conditions?

Governor Bryant: “We’ve got a lot of families that have no father in the home, that have for three generations have never seen a parent come home from work. We have failing school systems. We’re not trying to place blame on anyone, but there are failing school districts in areas where they are needed the most… . We’re going to ask the Legislature to remove any winnings at a casino from a parent who may owe child support. So you won’t be going around gambling and winning at the dice table and not taking care of your children. … Every time we think we have a government program to solve it, it doesn’t seem to work properly. What will work is the restoration of the family system, adequate schools and job opportunities for every student that has the ability to fill those jobs.”

And speaking of adequate schools, why not fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the budget formula that was put into law in 1997?

Governor Bryant: “I don’t think it would make any difference. I don’t think that formula will get us where we want to be. … Republicans are very willing to fund things that work in education. We are unwilling to put money into a formula that has not proven to be effective and that appears to increase the administrative expenditures more than the classroom. … We’re willing to give a $100 million teacher pay raise. We’re certainly willing to put money into charter schools and to scholarship programs for children who want to become teachers. We are willing to put money into educational systems that work. What we are being asked to do is to take a formula from the 1990s and fully fund it and hope that it works.”

Why not just repeal MAEP, then?

Governor Bryant: “I’m not sure there’s the political will to do that. I think you might look at some consideration of amending it.”

Read more here: http://www.sunherald.com/2015/01/04/6000397_ap-interview-tax-cut-plan-tops.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy 

From Clarion-Ledger Interviews with Lt. Governor Reeves and Speaker Gunn:

Lt. Gov. Reeves

2015 session priorities

Special needs vouchers: Reeves will support legislation to give vouchers to parents of special-education students, allowing them to spend roughly $6,000 a year per student in public education funds for private services. The measure was narrowly defeated in the House last year after heated debate.

Halt Common Core: Reeves says the national Common Core education standards adopted by Mississippi education leaders in 2010 are a federal overreach. He wants to create a task force of parents, teachers, administrators and subject-matter experts to develop Mississippi’s own standards.

Concealed carry permits: Reeves will again push for a reduction in the $100 permit fee for concealed carry of a gun. A measure passed by the Senate last year died in the House.

Train more doctors: Reeves is proposing the state increase its spending on residency training for physicians, to encourage more doctors to practice in different regions of the state.

 Read more here: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/01/03/lt-gov-reeves-session-priorities/21240857/?from=global&sessionKey=&autologin=

Speaker Gunn

2015 session priorities

Convention of states: Gunn wants Mississippi’s Legislature to join 34 other states in passing a resolution calling for a federal constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution and require Congress to pass a balanced budget. Article V of the Constitution says two-thirds of states can force a convention, and delegates of 38 states can ratify amendments.

Common Core: Gunn said he supports “removing any federal control” over Mississippi’s education standards and wants the state to “opt out” of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers testing tied to Common Core standards.

MAEP lawsuit: Gunn said he opposes litigation led by former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove on behalf of 21 school districts suing the state for $230 million they say is owed them under the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula. Gunn said Musgrove is “taking advantage” of confusing legislation and trying to line his own pockets through legal fees and he wants the Legislature to pass a measure to thwart the litigation.

Read more here: http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/01/03/speaker-gunns-session-priorities/21240801/?from=global&sessionKey=&autologin=

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