Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has announced that he will fund $110 million for K-12 public schools for the upcoming fiscal year, including an approximate $40 million needed for the second year of a teacher pay raise plan.
At a press conference on the third floor of Capitol, Reeves said that his plan shows his commitment to help the school children accomplish success in education. If his plan is approved then it would bring the state’s total education funding to $3.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2016.
Reeves said his plan would direct 86% of the expected growth in state revenues to schools. Rep, Cecil Brown and Sen. Hob Bryn suggested an additional $137 million for K-12 education for the upcoming fiscal year in late last year, including a commitment under the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) law to provide full funding for education within three years.
Reeves said that his proposal was just like what the House members had discussed last week when the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill devised to transfer the same amount of money to K-12 schools the upcoming year. Reeves said that officials expect the state to collect $127 million more in general funds in this year than in the current budget year. Nearly all the new revenue will go towards public schools.
Along with public schools, community colleges and universities will also receive an increase in funds this year. Reeves described his decision:
“I had made funding schools a priority by directing new revenue growth into outcome- based education programs. As Mississippi’s economy strengthens, we are on target to fund education at historic levels.”
The state has fully funded MAEP two times since its 1997 passage. Critics say Mississippi has short-changed its schools of $1.5 billion in the past six years. Patsy Brumfield, spokeswoman for the Better Schools, Better Jobs campaign, said, “As you notice, the only other times MAEP was fully funded was during two election years.”
According to Reeves, the funding for education has increased by $250 million in programs that directly influence classrooms over the past three years. He said that the Legislature had increased support for teacher pay raises, reading coaches, prekindergarten, National Board Certified Teachers, teacher supply funds, school safety programs and vocational education.
“Our commitment to education exceeds the stated goal of Initiative 42, which purportedly would increase education spending by only 25 per cent per year. There’s too much to talk about spending money to support the status quo and not enough about supporting students, I have a proven track record of investing in programs that will help children achieve academic success.”