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March 23, 2007

 

THE HOUSE DEMOCRAT LEADERSHIP--DESPERATE FOR A POLITICAL FIGHT

 

Ever since Haley Barbour became Governor, we have been told fully funding MAEP was the Holy Grail of education. Now that we are fully funding MAEP, some House Democrats are pretending there's a new Holy Grail – increased funding for the “at-risk” formula. This clearly shows that their argument is all about politics.

 

Governor Barbour has proposed the biggest increase in K-12 spending in any four year period in state history – nearly $530 million. After the most recent revenue estimate, this is what Governor Barbour proposes for the next school year – all within a balanced budget, while honoring the law to set aside 2% of our revenues and not dipping into or diverting from our rainy day fund:

 

• A $206 million increase for our K-12 schools - a 9% increase.


• Spending more than $8000/student in state, local and federal funds – the highest in state history!


• Fully funding the Department of Education’s request for the MAEP formula – the first time in state history!


• A 3% pay raise for our teachers so our average teacher pay will be more than $42,000 – the highest in state history!


• Funding the increased cost of health insurance and retirement for our teachers.


• Funding a “High School Redesign” program for dropout prevention.


• Funding a new dyslexia screening program for K-3 students.


• Funding a mentor program for new middle school teachers to help them better manage classroom discipline.


• Requiring new physical activity standards for K-8 students because healthy kids will have fewer discipline problems and will learn more.

 

But the House Democrat leadership says this isn’t enough if they can’t get another $13 million! It’s clear they care less about working together to make our schools better and more about having a political fight.

 

Before Rep. Cecil Brown will sign a conference report, he is demanding $13 million more for the “at-risk” formula even though the Legislature has never decided that should be done. In fact, we already spend more than $250 million a year on “at-risk” funding, nearly $70 million of which is for the “at-risk” formula within the MAEP formula – all without any accountability.

 

Don’t be fooled…the “at-risk” debate isn’t about our kids – it’s about politics.