Mississippi’s registered voters have the power to put an important issue to a vote – that’s called a ballot initiative. The Better Schools, Better Jobs initiative will allow voters to decide if they want their schools better funded so that our children are better prepared for good jobs.
If passed by the voters of Mississippi, the initiative will protect each child’s fundamental right to educational opportunity through the 12th grade by amending Section 201 of the Mississippi Constitution to require that the state must provide and the Legislature must fund an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.
In 1997, the Legislature created a funding formula (called the Mississippi Adequate Education Program or MAEP) to provide each child with an adequate public education. The state has fully funded its part only twice. Initiative 42 will require the Legislature to keep its commitment to our children and our communities and fully fund education.
Not from new taxes. The state’s part of K-12 funding could be built up to reach its promised level by using at least 25% of any increase in revenues each year. Initiative 42’s financial proposal doesn’t offer a funding solution, but it offers a fiscally conservative pathway for the Legislature to reach full funding over a period of years.
No. The state’s part of fully funding its commitment to K-12 education can come from growth, not funds allocated for other agency budgets.
No. The Legislature will continue to make decisions regarding education funding. So long as the Legislature fully funds K-12 education, there is no need for a judicial review. If the Legislature fails to fully fund the its own formula, a Mississippian can sue to require the Legislature to fully fund the formula. This decision, however, will in all likelihood be decided by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
The Legislature’s response to its own statutory public school funding formula is to underfund it, year after year. Only when the supporters of Initiative 42 gathered enough signatures to place the amendment on the ballot did legislative leaders begin talking about an alternative. If the Legislature has a better idea for K-12 funding, all they have to do is amend state law and fully fund it. Nearly 200,000 Mississippians signed onto Initiative 42. A legislative alternative is nothing more than an attempt to put multiple questions on the ballot to confuse the issue. In the more than 20 years since the initiative law was passed, the Legislature has never considered an alternative to any initiative – until now!
Mississippi has never thrown money at education. All Initiative 42 would do is require the Legislature to fully fund its part of the promise made in 1997 to provide an adequate education for all our children.
If you ask local school leaders, they will tell you that full funding could help them reduce the student-to-teacher ratio, acquire needed technology and upgrade crumbling facilities. They also say that full funding could help them avoid local bond issues and increased property taxes.