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Mississippi’s Democatic Lawmakers See Money For MAEP

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 19 Mar 2013 03:58pm | comments

Mississippi's Democratic lawmakers are now claiming the state has enough money to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.  While education is a top line agenda item for Mississippi's Republican lawmakers, fully funding MAEP has never been on the table.

Before the session even began, Republican lawmakers said the Mississippi Adequate Education Program could not be fully funded and might even be broken.

But Democrats in the state capitol are now saying that the state does have the money to close the $300 million funding gap.

Representative Linda Whittington of Schlater says all the focus on other education initiatives like the push for charter schools is a distraction from closing the funding shortfall.

"Even if we don't get to full funding of it. We can at least begin to map out a strategy to do it incrementally," Whittington said.

The formula is intended to dictate how much state lawmakers spend per student on K-12 education but it is rarely fully funded and the funding gap continues to grow.

House appropriations chairman Herb Frierson of Poplarville says the state simply does not have the money to meet the formula this year.

"It is not even kicking the can down the road it just gets you to a fiscal cliff. And that is the kind of politics they do in Washington and I don't want us to get into that here in Mississippi. To where we are having to deal with making draconian cuts because we put non-reoccurring dollars into reoccurring expenses," Frierson said.

Representative John Moore of Brandon, the house education chairman, agrees that MAEP will probably not be fully funded but also says schools have adjusted to lower funding.

"We are $300 million dollars off of full funding. And most of the districts have adjusted so they can stay in business and that is the main thing," Moore said.

For Democrats, the push for full funding of MAEP is a fight they are willing to have even if they are unlikely to win...They are planning a public hearing for early next week to lay out their plans to get to full funding.

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