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Some Mississippi Lawmakers Pushing For Education Funding Amendment

By Paul Boger | Published 10 Jul 2014 09:22am | comments
Some state lawmakers are urging residents to support a petition that would add a constitutional amendment guaranteeing adequate funding for Mississippi's public schools. The mandate would force lawmakers to put a certain percentage of new tax revenues toward education.
On a hot, July afternoon in the Capital City, second grader Terriana Robinson is busy reading from one of her favorite books in the children's section of the Jackson Public Library. While Terriana is a good student, her mother Susan is concerned about the state's public schools.
"No, I do not." says Robinson. "I don't really have a lot of trust in the education system."
That's why public education advocates are calling for a constitutional amendment that would force Mississippi lawmakers to adequately fund education every year. Under the plan, lawmakers would also be required to put aside any new monies the state received to spend solely on education. Legislator David Blount of Jackson is a member of the Senate Education committee.
"This will be a constitutional provision so someone could go to court and ask the legislature to do what the legislature should be doing." says Blount. "Now, someone could do that now, but this initiative is going to be more specific, and I think that's a good thing."
However, not everyone agrees that budget requirements should mandated by law. House Appropriations Chair Herb Frierson of Poplarville says the initiative could be disastrous for the state.
"If that was to pass, the way it is worded I believe that the legislature would immediately have to pass full fund."
 says Frierson. To do that you would have to cut a lot of other state government. If it passes and you don't full fund, then a judge is going to define what amount is adequate." 
Before the proposed mandate can appear on a ballot, 107 thousand registered voters must first sign a petition calling for the change.




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