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Speaker Pro Temp: Fully funding of MAEP unlikely to pass the House

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The Senate recently passed a bill fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) for the first time since 2007, sending the legislation to the House where Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White says passage is unlikely.

Under an amended version of House Bill 1369, which passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday morning, the state would allocate roughly $181 million to the program, which has only been fully funded twice since being implemented into law in 1997.

“Changing a formula that’s been around for over 25 years and spending almost $200 million on anything in the state budget is troublesome here at the end of the session,” White, R-West, said.

Those in the Senate argue that total funding for MAEP is imperative for a state that ranks No. 43 in public school education.

“The MAEP formula, we know, is flawed. It’s been broken,” Senator Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, said. “We’ve looked at it a number of times over the past 12 years. I think that more conversations that we have about how we can improve educational outcomes in our state is better, and I certainly support that. I think what’s been brought forward is something that starts a good conversation.”

HB 1369 would also require local school districts to contribute a minimum of 29.5 percent to the program, up from the previous 27 percent, in an attempt to reduce the total cost needed to fully fund MAEP.

Additionally, an alteration to how inflation is calculated to determine base student cost will also be implemented. The formula will be based on a 20-year rolling average that would be applied to a smaller percentage of the student base, changing the inflationary rate from 40 percent to 25 percent.

Governor Tate Reeves also pitched in on the matter Tuesday morning, encouraging lawmakers to remain cautious of the bill’s Democratic support and instead approve another teacher pay raise.

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