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Students Rally to Fully Fund MAEP

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 26 Jan 2011 02:48pm | comments
Students Rally at the capitol in Jackson.

Education advocates and students rallied at the capitol to call on the state legislature to increase education spending. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that they are unlikely to get all the money they want.

Dozens of Mississippi students and education advocates crowded the capital building Wednesday to wave signs and demand that lawmakers fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.

Lawmakers in the Mississippi senate and house have a soft agreement to keep education funding at the same level it was for fiscal year 20-11.

But Marilyn Young with the education group Southern Echoes say that level of funding won't be enough this year.

"Because it is for our children and the future of Mississippi. We have to figure out more diverse ways to cut in other areas. Like, for instance, corrections. We can figure out other places to cut to make sure our children get the first rate education they are entitled to," Young said.

Young says that the state needs to add a quarter of a billion dollars in education spending in order to fully fund MAEP, which is the funding formula legislators use to fund education at the basic level.

Key leaders in crafting the budget in both chambers have stressed that it would be extremely difficult to find that much money.

Senate Appropriations Chair Doug Davis of Hernando says level funding is probably the best the state can do.

"You know, we are going through one the toughest economic sessions that the state has seen in recent history. And we are going to have to say 'no' to some of the things we see as priorities. And I think given the current economic climate, level funding is a good goal to have," Davis said.

House Appropriations Chair Johnny Stringer of Montrose also thinks keeping spending steady would be an achievement because further cuts could force local governments to raise taxes.

"You know we can say we are not raising taxes, but when we underfund education it is an automatic tax increase at home," Stringer said.

But those answers fall short for the students at the capital who feel that their education and future is being damaged right now.

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Students Rally at the capitol in Jackson.


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