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Initiative 42, Fully Funding Mississippi Schools: Could Have Detrimental Impact on State Budget, Say Lawmakers

JACKSON, MISS– If you’ve got children in school, you may be rooting for anything that could bring more money into public education. But state lawmakers say that if Initiative 42 passes, it could blow a hole in the state’s budget, and harm multiple state agencies. 

“It could lead to about a 7.8 percent budget cut for most state agencies, really everything except Medicaid,” says Speaker Pro Tem Gregg Snowden on the Paul Gallo Show.

But why would the cut have to happen? Because following the Mississippi Adequate Education Fund formula, schools have been shorted nearly 2 billion dollars in the last several years. If Initiative 42 were to pass, it would go into effect 30 days later, and it would give the courts the authority to push the state legislature to fully fund the schools. Since the vote is in November, immediate cuts would have to result to cover that deficit, since the Legislative session wouldn’t happen until January to determine a new budget.

“Lawsuits would be pending around the state before the Legislative Session even happens,” says Snowden, “It would go into effect in mid-December.”

While Snowden outlines that many state agencies would take a cut, the most widely mentioned are the cuts for universities and community colleges. Snowden describes a cut of 7.8 percent to be a “body blow” to universities, and the cause for major tuition increases for Mississippi’s community colleges. Snowden refers back to the budget hearings, in which community colleges and universities were told to prepare for those budget cuts in the event that Initiative 42 passes.

At that budget hearing, Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education for the state of Mississippi, stated that a nearly 8 percent budget cut would result in over 700 jobs being cut or frozen across the state’s university system, teachers would have more students in class, and tuition would go up.

Deborah Gilbert, who is the Interim Director for the Mississippi Community College Board, told News Mississippi at the budget hearings on September 24th that community colleges in the state could see as much as a 42% tuition increase in order to cover the budget cut. Layoffs and position freezes would also be inevitable, says Gilbert.

For what Initiative 42 supporters say, click here.

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