Our 2017 Legislative Session Summary: Public Education Wins and Losses
The Mississippi Public Education PAC monitors legislation that impacts public education in our state. Below is a summary of the 2017 Mississippi Legislative Session. Thank you for staying engaged and helping to ensure that our schools are adequately funded so that every student has the opportunity to succeed.
School privatization bills were defeated.
Legislators introduced several bills that would have allowed families to use taxpayer money at private schools without accountability measures. One such bill was HB 1046, which would have allowed any child with a dyslexia diagnosis to take taxpayer money to a private school – including out-of-state private schools. The bill did not include a cap on the number of students who could participate, nor did it include reporting requirements from the school receiving public money. Fortunately, legislators listened to their constituents and allowed HB 1046 to die.
Public school supporters contacted their legislators – and made a difference.
Public school advocates called, emailed and texted their legislators about K-12 bills throughout the legislative session. And hundreds of public school supporters crowded the Capitol for the Seat at the Table Rally in March. Parents, educators and students called upon legislators to include them in the process of making changes to the school funding formula. Their voices were heard, and the funding formula bill was never introduced.
Public school budgets to be cut by $40 million over last year’s budget.
The K-12 Appropriation will be approximately $214 million less than is called for under the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP).
The public school charitable deduction bill was defeated.
HB 1702 would have allowed individuals and corporations to receive a charitable deduction from state taxes for donating money to public schools. The charitable deduction is currently available for contributions to public universities and private schools, so the loss of this bill is especially troubling.
Legislators Chose Secrecy over Transparency in MAEP Overhaul Effort with EdBuild.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn hired the EdBuild consulting firm last fall to develop recommendations for overhauling the state’s school funding formula. The Legislature held only one public meeting and declined to provide meaningful opportunities for parents, educators and community members to weigh in. In the end, legislators could not agree on which recommendations to adopt, and a bill was never filed. Public school supporters continue to tell their legislators that any changes to the school funding formula should be discussed in public forums around the state before any action is taken.
We know that we can’t afford to give up because our children are counting on us. We need to continue to talk to our legislators about how important our public schools are for our children, our communities and our economy. And we need to get ready for the next legislative election cycle.
Join with the Mississippi Public Education PAC to elect a pro-public education legislature. Help us:
1) Identify good candidates;
2) Target competitive races;
3) Raise the money needed to run effective campaigns.