On a 29-22 vote, the full Senate defeated the Senate Appropriations Committee’s strike-all amendment that would have stripped $81-million from the House level of funding in HB1494, the education funding bill. Of that $81-million, $65-million would have come out of the MAEP. Defeating the strike-all amendment restored the higher House level of funding. Click here to see that vote.
A number of Senators spoke passionately about the need to put as much funding as possible into our schools so that Mississippi children can compete well with their peers in other states. Prior to the vote on the strike-all amendment, Senator Briggs Hopson proposed an amendment to add back $15-million of the funding that had been cut from the House bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator Merle Flowers co-authored the amendment, and it was adopted on a 32 to 16 vote. See that vote here.
Once the Hopson Amendment was adopted, the amended strike-all amendment was before the Senate. Senator Gray Tollison went to the podium and asked the members to vote against the Senate Appropriations Committee’s strike-all amendment. (Voting against the strike-all amendment would, in effect, be voting to reinstate the higher House level of funding.) Sen. Tollison spoke about the need to get as close as possible to full MAEP funding, arguing that it is both the right thing to do for children and an economically wise investment. The full Senate agreed, rejecting the strike-all amendment in favor of the original House bill on a 29 to 22 vote.
Other senators who spoke in favor of increasing the funding in the bill were: Senator David Blount, Senator Eric Powell, Senator Ezell Lee, Senator Derrick Simmons, Senator David Baria, Senator David Jordan, and Senator Merle Flowers.
A reverse repealer was added to the bill in order to send the bill to conference and avoid a veto from the governor. Governor Barbour has indicated that he will veto any bill that is sent to his desk before a full, balanced state budget is adopted. Three members of the House and three members of the Senate will be assigned to the conference committee.