Proposed Constitutional Amendment: Keeping Our Promise to Children

Initiative 42 is an effort to amend the Mississippi Constitution to require that public schools be adequately funded. The proposal calls for gradual increases in K-12 funding, whenever revenue grows, until full funding is reached. Opponents of adequate public school funding are attempting to defeat Initiative 42 by falsely claiming that passage of the initiative would result in tax increases or budget cuts. Because the initiative is designed to phase in full school funding using natural growth in state revenue across several years, cuts to other state agency budgets will not be required; likewise, tax increases will not be required. Click here to see dates and locations for Initiative 42 forums to be held in August and September of 2015. See comments from Meridian and Tupelo forums here.

More than 200,000 Mississippians signed petitions to get the initiative on the ballot – more than have signed any petition for any citizen-led initiative in the history of our state – more than signed petitions for voter ID, personhood, or eminent domain, and far more than the 108,000 required. Circuit clerks across Mississippi worked diligently to certify more than 120,000 of those signatures before the October 2014 deadline. Initiative 42 will appear on the ballot in the statewide election on November 3, 2015. 

Since 2009, the funding the Legislature has provided for our children’s schools is $1.7-billion below what our state law says it should be; schools are underfunded by $201-million for the 2015-2016 school year alone, despite significant increases in state revenue for the last four consecutive years. That is unacceptable. It’s time to do something about it.

Opponents of adequate school funding launched a misinformation campaign last year in an attempt to derail the initiative before it even reached the ballot. Those who oppose adequate K-12 funding, including some state leaders, continue to circulate false information in an effort to defeat Initiative 42. We need your help to push back against these attempts to deny our children quality public schools. Encourage your friends and family to vote yes on Initiative 42 on November 3!

 Below is the current language in the Mississippi Constitution regarding “free public schools” and the amendment language proposed by Initiative 42.

Mississippi Constitution


Section 201: The Legislature shall, by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may prescribe.

Proposed – Initiative 42:

(The entire text below, including the proposed Section 201 amendment and the description of the amount and source of revenue required to implement the initiative, was published on the back of petitions signed by registered voters.)

Section 201: Educational opportunity for public school children
To protect each child’s fundamental right to educational opportunity, the State shall provide for the establishment, maintenance, and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.
Amount and Source of Revenue Required to Implement the Initiative:
For the purposes of the initiative, a minimum standard of contemporary adequate education is described by the funding formula of the current version of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and an efficient education is one that will, among other things, enable Mississippi’s public school graduates to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states.
Funding the initiative will not require a reduction in, elimination of, or reallocation of funding from any currently funded programs. The initiative will be funded by maintaining current funding levels for public education through the 12th grade adjusted for inflation, and then devoting to public education not less than 25% of future increases in general fund and other tax collections in order to achieve the constitutionally required level of adequacy and efficiency in the public educational system by a target date of Fiscal Year 2022 and maintain it in the future. For example, the state’s general fund revenues are projected to increase over Fiscal Year 2014 levels by approximately 3% annually, which will produce an additional $150 million in Fiscal Year 2015. Twenty-five percent of that would be $37.5 million. A similar amount for seven years could reach the additional $265 million a year in current dollars which will be needed to provide Mississippi’s public school students with an education that is adequate and efficient by contemporary standards. This initiative is not intended to restrict or meaningfully reduce the overall percentage of general fund revenues devoted to public schools, which at present is approximately 40%. If enforcement is necessary, injunctive relief will be the preferred remedy.

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