K-12 Budget, Corporate Tax Cuts Pass House, Senate
The K-12 budget bill, HB 1643, has been adopted. It provides level funding for the MAEP, under-funding public schools by $172-million. Other portions of the education budget suffered cuts, but Chairman Moore noted that conferees worked hard to minimize the negative effect on students.
The Schools for the Blind and the Deaf were cut more than $300,000, an impact that will be felt by some of our most vulnerable children. All funding was stripped from the highly successful Mississippi Building Blocks early childhood education program, which does terrific work with child care centers across the state to improve the school readiness of children. Funding for pre-k collaborative programs was increased by $1-million, but early childhood education overall suffered a net loss of $2-million.
Most state agencies suffered deep budget cuts, as revenue for the current year is projected to come in below last year's take - something that rarely occurs. Much of the shortfall is due to corporate tax breaks enacted by the Legislature in recent years.
As hard as it is to believe, legislators also passed SB 2858, granting corporations even more big tax breaks. The bill will strip another $416-million annually from state revenue (when fully phased in over 12 years), leaving our children holding the bill. It is disheartening that our Legislature isn't more committed to ensuring that our state has the resources necessary to ensure sufficient public services for citizens, including an adequate education for all of our children. See the House vote. See the Senate vote.
The average daily membership bill, HB 458, which would have funded schools for every child enrolled rather than based on attendance, died on the calendar, as no conference report was filed by the deadline. That was the bill we feared would be used to make changes to the MAEP formula.
See the outcomes of other bills we have followed. The Legislature will wrap up its business in the next day or two.
"Thank you" seems insufficient for the terrific work you have done this year to fight for great public schools and bright futures for all Mississippi children, most of whom you will never know. They are awfully fortunate to have you in their corner!