This week, the House passed HB 1613, the public school appropriation bill. In its initial form, the bill underfunds the MAEP by $261-million, however the chairman explained that these are not the final budget numbers.
Here’s what we know…
- Mississippi public schools are underfunded by $279-million this year, and they have been shortchanged by more than $3-billion in the past 15 years
- Our neighboring states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee outspend Mississippi on public education by more than $1,000 per student, putting Mississippi students and high school graduates at a significant disadvantage when competing with their peers in other states
- The Legislative Budget Office has said that legislators have $1-billion more to spend this year than was appropriated in the 2022 Legislative Session
- It’s been proven time and again that when we invest in them, Mississippi’s public school teachers and students deliver, achieving more academic improvement than those in any other state
When the funding is available, it would be indefensible for legislators to not fully fund our public schools.
Please call your legislators, Speaker Gunn, and Lt. Gov. Hosemann with this message:
1. FULLY FUND public schools
2. Keep public funds in PUBLIC schools – amend HB 1671 to remove private school funding (see below)
Find contact information for legislators who represent your school district
Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770
Speaker Gunn: 601.359.3300
Lt. Gov. Hosemann: 601.359.3200
HB 1671 includes the Children’s Promise Act – the law that was supposed to encourage donations to organizations that serve children in foster care but, instead, diverted half of the funding to private schools that are not required to serve foster children. Section 4 of HB 1671 should be amended to eliminate the provision that subsidizes private schools. The bill should direct 100% of the tax credits in Section 4 to the benefit of organizations that serve children in foster care.
Yesterday, Sen. David Blount offered an amendment to remove private school funding from a Senate bill that reappropriates unspent federal pandemic funding from last year, private school funding that a chancery court judge ruled is unconstitutional. That amendment failed on a 19-26 vote. We are grateful to the 19 senators who voted to keep public money in public schools. You can see the vote here.
Legislators want to represent their constituents’ priorities, but to do that, they must hear from you – lots of you. Please call your legislators today, and help us spread the word. Ask everyone you know to call. Because together, we’ve got this!