MS education funding cuts deeper than 40 other states - - Jackson, MS

MS education funding cuts deeper than 40 other states

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The ABC's of funding Mississippi schools prove to be a sticking point every legislative session, and now a national report shows the cuts went deep into the classrooms.

The bell rings on the fight for education funding every legislative session. Now, a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows Mississippi made deeper education cuts than 40 other states.

"Mississippi is spending $648 less per student today than it was prior to the recession in 2008. What this shows is that we really need to get back to funding our schools," said MEPC Director Ed Sivak

Without that, the Mississippi Economic Policy Center worries about the cycle that's put into motion.

"A strong education system is critical to creating the types of workers that have the skills they need to compete in a global economy," explained Sivak.

Every year, Rep. Cecil Brown is at the center of the push for schools to get a bigger piece of the funding pie. And he's not ready to back down.

"People have been talking about this forever. How important education is, how important it is to have our children have opportunities to succeed. We talk about that all the time. But we're not willing to put our checkbooks where our hearts are supposed to be," Brown said.

Last session, some Republican lawmakers argued that there's no evidence throwing money at the problem would help it. Brown takes issue with that logic.

"We're not throwing money at anything. I mean, you've got to have school books, you've got to have teachers, you've got to pay the utility bills," argued Brown.

Some districts have raised ad valorem taxes to balance the budget, but not all of them can. That leads to even more cuts.

"Once you cut to that level, you're just out of luck. You're going to go into the classroom and start cutting services to kids," Brown said.

Representative Brown doesn't expect the money to return overnight but would like legislators to come up with a three to five year plan where they add $50 million a year and eventually get back to fully funding MAEP.

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