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Education Leaders Ask For 300-million Dollar Increase

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 Sep 2011 04:51pm | comments
Members of the joint legislative budget committee listen to presentations.

State education leaders say they need a 13-percent increase in funds to properly educate Mississippi Children. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the departments requested budget tops 2.6 billion dollars.

The K-12 education budget is by far the biggest portion of the state budget, and state education leaders have told the Joint Legislative Budget committee that they need a 300-million dollar increase to continue educating Mississippi kids.

State superintendent of School Tom Burnham says that amount would fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the funding formula that the state uses to fund education at a minimum level.

"We are confident that the legislative process will work as it has worked in the past. That the members of the legislature will fund education to the greatest level within the constraints that they are dealing with. And within those resources, we will provide a quality education for the children of the state," Burnham.

The budget also includes money for common core standards training, the teacher supply and building funds, and 2-and-a-half million dollars for a superintendents academy...Burnham says one-third of the districts are getting a new superintendent this year.

MAEP was not fully funded last year, and Lt. Governor Phil Bryant says it is hard to see how the state will be able to meet full funding this year.

"We all want to fully fund MAEP. But as you all have heard we are at 1.4 billion dollars more, just now. So the next legislature and the next governor is going to have some real challenges but we have been here before," Bryant said.

House Education Chairman Cecile Brown of Jackson says it would take a miracle for the state to meet the 5-thousand dollars per student that is called for by MAEP.

"We are still in a budget crunch. Revenues are flat. The economy is flat. 237-million dollars is probably out of the question. We are going to do everything we can to keep level funding if not increase, so we can avoid passing the burden down to the local level as we have done in the past," Brown said.

The committee has finished their weeklong series of budget hearings...Over the coming months, the law makers will get a revenue forecast and craft a recommended budget for the next legislature to consider.

 

 

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Members of the joint legislative budget committee listen to presentations.


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