- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Republican Gov. Phil Bryant told business leaders Thursday that it’s time to update Mississippi’s school funding formula because the current one is an outdated “1992 model.”

“With three years left in this second term, I understand it’s critically important that we get things done - a good education system,” Bryant said.

He spoke to several hundred people at an event sponsored by Mississippi Economic Council, the state chamber of commerce.

The current school funding formula, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, was put into law in 1997 and phased in over several years. It was enacted by a Democratic-controlled Legislature over the veto of then-Gov. Kirk Fordice, a fiscally conservative Republican and a political mentor to Bryant.

The formula was designed to give schools enough money to meet midlevel academic standards, but it has been fully funded only twice in 20 years.

The shortfall in funding, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, has been a constant source of conflict. Education advocates say elected officials are making empty promises to help schools, while many legislative leaders say fully funding MAEP would lead to deep budget cuts for other state government programs.

Republican legislative leaders hired a New Jersey-based consulting group, EdBuild, to suggest revisions to the formula. Any changes would have to be approved by a simple majority of the House and Senate. The GOP holds a three-fifths majority in both chambers - more than enough votes to approve a new plan. EdBuild has not submitted its recommendations.

“Now, I know there are those out there that say, ‘Oh, this is a terrible plot again and they’re just trying to do something to harm public education.’ Nothing could be further than the truth,” Bryant said Thursday. “That is a 1992 model. If we were all giving our highway patrolmen 1992 Chevrolet Impalas, you might think we were a little disturbed.”

Bryant said the world has changed since 1992.

“So should our desire to make sure we have the most successful and effective public education system in the United States,” he said. “That change of the MAEP formula will help us do that.”

____

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide