One of the state Legislature’s most influential members disputes contentions the Mississippi Adequate Education [program specifically and education in general is under-funded in the state.
“I went to the Legislature in 1992. We had $958 million going to K-12. I’m on the budget committee, and yesterday the number was $2 billion. Does that sound like it’s been cut?” state Rep. and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith told a forum of about 30 people Thursday night in Columbus.
“Since 1992 the K-12 districts in Mississippi have lost 51,000 children. Have you heard that from the Mississippi Department of Education? In the last five years we have lost 22,000 people in K-12. We do not fully fund MAEP because we spend $253 million outside of MAEP,” the Columbus Republican continued in an explanation he gives frequently.
The forum was hosted by the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce. Smith was joined by state Reps. Gary Chism and Chiehk Taylor and Sen. Angela Turner Ford as well as education administrators from the Columbus and Lowndes County schools and private schools. Sen. Chuck Younger had a prior engagement.
The group answered questions for almost 90 minutes about everything from teacher pay raises and funding for the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science to ways to promote science and math programs.
“MDE and some of the teachers’ unions say the legislature does not fund education. B.S. That is not true,” Smith said, continuing his response to the funding issue.
“We do not fully fund MAEP because there are other parts of education, teacher pay, for instance. We are going to give a pay raise. Probably between $50 million and $60 million, probably spread over two to three years.