Governor Phil Bryant has released his Executive Budget Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13), which is next school year. While the governor's proposal replaces over $5-million that was cut from high growth districts in the last legislative session, it cuts the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) appropriation to all districts by another $72.9-million.
This would underfund the MAEP by $323-million, forcing school districts already struggling to offer a quality education to operate with even fewer resources. Governor Bryant's budget includes a $12-million appropriation for Teach for America, a program designed to bring good teachers into struggling districts - a recommendation we applaud.
Last fall, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee recommended that the FY13 state support for the MAEP remain at the same level of funding that was appropriated for the current year. That committee's recommendation would provide $67-million more in state funding for the MAEP than Governor Bryant proposes.
Both the Executive Budget Recommendation and the Legislative Budget Recommendation are just that - recommendations. Only the Legislature can appropriate funds, and their negotiations are expected to begin in earnest in the coming weeks.
The good news is that revenue has been coming in above projections in recent months. Many legislators pledged during the campaign to find ways to close the gap between current funding and full funding of the MAEP, and we are hopeful that they will, indeed, find ways to make good on that pledge.