The House and Senate have decided the final budget for the state and adjourned the 2022 Legislative Session. This session had some big wins and plenty of disappointments, but be assured that your voice made a big difference.
The Good News:
Funding for public schools pre-k through grade 12 increased for FY2023 by $326-million, or 7% overall, most of which was the teacher pay raise. HB 1600, the public school funding bill, includes:
- $245-million for the teacher and assistant teacher pay raise
- $5.2-million to cover the increase in health insurance premiums for teachers and staff
- a $31-million* net increase in MAEP funding (see Bad News below)
- $5-million more in teacher supply funds, for a total of $25-million – a 20% increase
- An increase of $8-million for the Early Learning Collaborative program – a 50% increase
- An additional $20-million for public school pre-k programs that are not part of the Early Learning Collaboratives
- $5-million for math coaches
- Full funding for the National Board Certification and Chickasaw Cession programs
School districts will have 10 calendar days after the governor signs HB 1600 to notify teachers of nonrenewal.
The Legislature finally stopped the diversion of the $20-million Public School Building Fund and added another $20-million to create a $40-million revolving loan account for public school facilities repair and renovation.
Gov. Reeves has signed the teacher pay raise bill, which provides a $2,000 pay raise for assistant teachers and an average raise of $5,140 for certified teachers.
The Bad News:
The Legislature ignored the wishes of taxpayers who urged long overdue investments in public schools and infrastructure and instead decimated state revenue with the state’s largest ever tax cut. This tax cut will limit for years to come the Legislature’s ability to invest in public schools and other critical services.
Despite legislators’ insistence that the state has plenty of money to fund vital services and cut taxes, the Mississippi Department of Education estimates that the MAEP underfunding gap grew by another $7.5-million to $279-million while legislators cut state revenue for the coming year by $185-million. MAEP funding grew by only 3.7%. MAEP funding determines class size, the number of courses offered, instructional materials, and myriad other classroom expenditures that drive the quality of our children’s education. Some context: inflation is near 7%, and the budgets for community colleges and universities grew by 11% and 17% respectively.
Many legislators you elected because of their campaign pledges to support full funding of public schools and to oppose private school vouchers abandoned their promises and voted instead to cut taxes and increase funding to a cleverly disguised voucher program.
The Mississippi House of Representatives devolved to a new, astounding level of dysfunction and deceit, where decisions about important legislation are made in secret caucus meetings (including funding for private schools hidden in numerous unrelated bills) and rubber stamped by House floor votes with rarely any debate and often without a single question asked.
You. You are our hope. You and the wonderful, pro-public school legislators you elected who repeatedly stood strong for public schools. These pro-public school legislators do exist, I promise! They helped us dig through thousands of pages of bills to ferret out the deceitful shenanigans of privatizers who are relentless in their efforts to funnel taxpayer dollars to private schools and who don’t dare do their underhanded work in the light of day.
I’ve heard from so many of you who are thoroughly disgusted with the unscrupulous actions of some legislators and eager to take action. And I’ve heard from legislators in both parties and in both chambers who want to help us right the ship. As adults living in a democracy, it’s up to us make a change. And it’s entirely possible.
I refuse to stand by while legislative shenanigans harm our children and our public schools and cheat citizens of the oversight and fair, representative government they deserve. If you will stand with me, we will give pro-public school legislators the support they need to stand up for our children every time. And we’ve got an election just around the corner. It’s time to make sure our Legislature works for the people. Watch for more details in the coming weeks. Because together, we’ve got this!
The Parents’ Campaign