Senate Finance Committee Advances Bill Benefiting Private Schools

This afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee amended and passed HB 1988, the Children’s Promise Act, which provides tax credits benefiting private schools. While the committee has removed for now the tremendous increase in these tax credits, if the bill goes to conference it very well could come back with millions more in state tax dollars to subsidize private schools, with some private schools eligible for more per student in state tax dollars than public schools receive. These private schools are subject to no oversight, no audits, and no accountability.

The original intent of the Children’s Promise Act was to benefit children in foster care, but a loophole in the law is allowing massive amounts of these tax credits to subsidize private schools instead. A private school can qualify for the maximum amount in state tax dollars ($405,000 in 2024) if it serves one child with ADHD or one child with asthma or one child who is eligible for reduced-price lunch. Once a private school qualifies, it is not required to show annually that it continues to serve that one child with a chronic illness, disability, or economic disadvantage. Private schools must recertify only once every seven years. See how much each private school got this year.

Please ask your senator to VOTE NO on HB 1988. See below for updates on other bills.

Find contact information for legislators

Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770
Speaker White: 601.359.3300
Lt. Gov. Hosemann: 601.359.3200

Please also discuss these bills with your legislators:

SB 2693 revives the INSPIRE Act, replacing the MAEP as the school funding law. INSPIRE calls for the base student cost to remain stagnant for three years, with no increase at all, while the MAEP base cost rises with inflation. The result is that, while INSPIRE calls for slightly more funding than the MAEP in its first year, in year 2, it is estimated that the MAEP would call for $60-million MORE than INSPIRE, a gap that widens with each subsequent year. By year 5 the cumulative LOSS in school funding is projected to be more than half a billion dollars compared to the MAEP. ASK SENATORS NOT TO CONCUR.

HB 765 allows the Mississippi Critical Teacher Shortage Act to remain as law by extending the repeal date, expands the Winter-Reed Teacher Loan Repayment Program, and authorizes a $1,000 across-the-board teacher pay raise. ASK LEGISLATORS TO SUPPORT THIS VERSION IN CONFERENCE.

HB 1229
requires private voucher schools to meet the statutory requirements of the ESA voucher program and report participating student data on AP and college admissions tests and graduation and college acceptance rates in order to receive ESA funds. The bill mandates that students be accepted by a qualifying voucher school before being added to the program’s waiting list. ASK LEGISLATORS TO SUPPORT THIS VERSION IN CONFERENCE. 

HB 1618 revives the retired teachers bill, allowing retired teachers to work full time in critical shortage areas while receiving PERS benefits. The language is added to the Senate version of the PERS bill, which keeps the PERS board intact but requires that increases be recommended to the Legislature, limiting unilateral board action, and rescinds the 2% increase in the employer contribution. The Parents’ Campaign generally does not take positions on PERS legislation, but we strongly support measures addressing the teacher shortage. ASK REPRESENTATIVES TO SUPPORT THE PROVISION ALLOWING RETIRED TEACHERS TO RETURN TO THE CLASSROOM WHILE DRAWING PERS BENEFITS.

HB 1823
 is the public school appropriation bill. The Senate version provides a $206-million increase in MAEP funding and a $1,000 across-the-board teacher pay raise. The total increase over current year funding is $256-million, almost identical to the increase proposed by the House. The House version of the bill provides a $250-million increase over current-year funding but appropriates it toward the INSPIRE Act, which keeps funding stagnant for the next three years, resulting in an estimated cumulative loss to public schools of more than half a billion dollars over five years compared to the MAEP. Please urge your legislators to work together quickly to hammer out details on HB 1823 and send school districts their budgets so they can ramp up their plans for the 2024-2025 school year.

The Legislative session is winding down quickly. Please give your legislators a call right away about these important bills. Check our Bill Tracker for updates on the bills we are following. Together, we’ve got this!

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