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Mississippi Attorney General says School Funding Suit is “Meaningless”

JACKSON, Miss. – Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by nearly two dozen school districts claiming lawmakers have shortchanged them millions of dollars from the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP).

The suit, filed by former Governor Ronnie Musgrove, ask that all the money is sent to the districts and that the state be forced to never again repeat under funding of MAEP. The suit is the latest maneuver to get schools the full benefits of a 2006 law signed  by then Governor Haley Barbour, which says after a three-year phase-in period, MAEP shall be fully funded.  But Hood contends, in papers filed Tuesday in Hinds County Chancery Court, that the suit is meaningless.  “One Mississippi Legislature cannot dictate how much funding a future Mississippi Legislature appropriates to the state’s political subdivisions,” the Hood response said.  “Each Legislature can and must decide for itself how it annually appropriates the state’s revenue.”

Hood cited cases from five other states to help validate his point, but also argued it’s ultimately common sense.  “If the principle did not exist, as the school districts’ ill-conceived mandatory appropriations theory here contemplates, the 2006 Legislature could have enacted a statute providing ever subsequent legislature ‘shall never appropriate more than $1 to any school district in any given fiscal year,” he wrote.

In a written statement, Musgrove responded that “I deeply respect the Attorney General, and his commitment to our state, but we disagree on this case.  Unfortunately, General Hood finds himself in the difficult situation of having to defend a client that is undeniably guilty.”

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