JACKSON, MISS– When you head to the polls again in November, a question on the ballot will read “Should the Legislature provide for the establishment and support of effective free public schools without judicial enforcement?” But that almost wasn’t the case.
The State Supreme court sided with the authority of your elected lawmakers today over the issue of wording on the ballot. In April, a Hinds County Circuit Judge refused to approve the Alternative 42A ballot title agreed upon by Attorney General Jim Hood and legislators. The Legislature appealed the Hinds County Circuit Court Judge’s decision to alter the ballot title for Alternative 42A.
An alternate title read “an adequate and efficient system of free public schools,” as written by a judge.
“We appreciate the justices’ decision to correct a Hinds County judge who overstepped his constitutional role,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn said in a joint statement. “This judicial irresponsibility is precisely why voters should be wary of Initiative 42, which gives a Hinds County judge the authority to direct education policy. There is no guarantee the Supreme Court will always be able to correct a wayward judge who orders tax increases or consolidates schools under this initiative effort.”
Initiative 42 will be on the ballot November 4th. The people will vote on who has the power to set or alter legislation that could affect public school services. If Initiative 42 passes, decided power on legislation falls on the Hinds County judge.
Alternative 42 makes for effective public schooling for all Mississippi children, without statewide policies being placed in the hands on any one county judge, Hinds County or elsewhere.
The shift in power away from locally-elected lawmakers could “result in significant tax increases, drastic cuts in state priorities – such as funding for universities, community colleges, University Medical Center, roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and even agricultural programs – or both.” says the joint statement from Speaker Gunn and Lt. Governor Reeves.
The statement says voting “no” on Initiative 42 would prevent that shift in power from happening.