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April 9, 2014

Why is a Canton PAC Interested in Jackson's Mayoral Election?

By R.L. Nave

ENI, a Canton, Miss.-based political-action committee formed in late March.

But that's about all we know so far.

The statement of organization, filed with the Jackson city clerk's office April 2, indicates the committee is not authorized by any particular candidate and its purpose is "to raise money in relation to the City of Jackson Mayoral Special Election."

The form lists Alance McKinney of Jackson as ENI's president/director and Fletcher Shaw of Canton as secretary/treasurer. State records also show a south Jackson address for two dissolved companies. Reached by phone, Shaw said the PAC was set up to back a candidate in the mayor's race, but referred a Jackson Free Press reporter to attorney John P. Martin, who prepared ENI's paperwork, for particulars.

"It's a political-action committee set up and established based upon the guidelines the election commission set up — no less or no more," Shaw told JFP.

Martin, of the Canton firm of Montgomery McGraw PLLC, called the JFP back Thursday to say that his firm's role in the PAC is only to serve as its agent.

Employees of Montgomery McGraw, including partner Bob Montgomery, a former Mississippi state senator and chief of staff to former Democratic U.S. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, have contributed to several political candidate campaigns over the years.

Most recently, Bob Montgomery gave to Republicans Gov. Phil Bryant, transportation Commissioner Dick Hall and Lucien Smith, a 2011 state treasurer candidate who now serves as Bryant's chief-of-staff. In past elections, Montgomery also gave to Republicans former Gov. Haley Barbour, Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck and Tate Reeves when he was state treasurer.

In addition, Montgomery has contributed to former Democratic Insurance Commissioner George Dale as well as several state supreme court candidates, races that are officially nonpartisan.

Fletcher Shaw said the ENI would be in compliance with state financial disclosure rules; runoff candidates—Chokwe A. Lumumba and Tony Yarber—will be required to file reports on Tuesday, April 15.

April 9, 2014

City Warns of Sewer Overflows in Parts of Jackson

By R.L. Nave

Verbatim release from the city of Jackson:

The City of Jackson is issuing an alert to all individuals in areas within the City of Jackson that may be affected by flooding from the Pearl River and any of its tributaries. All of these areas are likely to be affected by Sanitary Sewer Overflows (“SSO’s”) resulting from ground water and standing flood water overwhelming the sanitary sewer collection system and pump stations. The water in these flooded areas is likely to be contaminated with raw sewage.

Sanitary Sewer Overflows are also likely to happen beyond the areas that are underwater. If you see any water overflowing from a manhole, first stay away from the water and then report the overflow to the City of Jackson at (601) 960-1875.

The following streets within the City of Jackson can expect to be affected by flood waters:

 Annie Street  Beasley Street  Cypress Trail  Deer Trail  Foxboro Drive  Galilee Street - LOW AREAS ONLY  Greenwood at Hardy Creek  Harrow Drive and Riverwood - Intersection  Hudson Street - East End  Juienne Street - LOW AREAS ONLY  Martin Street  McNutt Street  Moncure Rd - HINDS COUNTY  Nichols Street  Offutt Street  Old Brandon Rd Closed  President Street from Silias Brown South - South End  River Cove  River Glenn  River Road North  Riverwood And Harrow Drive - Intersection  Rollingwood At Yuca Drive - South End  Rosmary Rd - HINDS COUNTY  Sidney Street  Southwest (Between Rankin and Highway 80) - One Lane Closed  Southwest Street - 900 Block - North Bound Lane Closed  Southwest Street - 900 Block - South Bound Lane Closed  South Congress Street from Silas Brown Street - South  South President Street at Beasley Street - Intersection  Sproles Street  Village Park Mobil Homes (Off I-55 E. Frontage Rd) Water under trailers  Westbrook Road from Harrow Drive East  Yucca Drive - South End

Overflows pose hazards similar to those in public restrooms or even your own bathroom. If you, your family, or your pets have contact with flood waters or an overflow, wash thoroughly with soap and water. Remember: Washing your hands carefully and often is the best defense against illness carried by animals or human waste.

April 8, 2014

Live Tweeting the #jxnmayor Returns

By Todd Stauffer

We'll use Storify to follow tweets, Facebook, Touts and other updates throughout the night, including time coverage from the return parties.

April 8, 2014

Jackson Preps for High Water as Rez Opens Floodgates

By R.L. Nave

Press release from the city of Jackson on the flooding of the Pearl River:

Today, the City of Jackson officials, along with Hinds County officials, met to solidify their plan to respond to potential flooding.

“Due to a significant amount of rainfall, there now exist a need to release waters from the reservoir in order to increase its holding capacity”, said Warren Miller the City of Jackson’s Emergency Management Coordinator.

“This release into the Pearl River will increase the water flows on several of the tributaries in and around Jackson which creates a high possibility that adjacent streets and communities will be inundated.”

City Officials are asking citizens to report any flooding on streets to the City’s 311System, so crews can properly block these streets.

“Public Works crews are currently out, assessing the low-lying areas for flooding, and are monitoring river levels,” said Miller. “Public Works, along with the assistance of our Police and Fire Departments will continue to monitor flood-prone areas throughout the night to ensure the safety of citizens.”

City Officials will continue to monitor weather conditions and provide up-to-date information as they become available.

Visit the City’s website at for a map of flood prone areas in Jackson. For tips on how to prepare for possible flooding or other weather-related preparedness tips, visit the MEMA website at

April 8, 2014

Candidate Post-Election Parties

By HaleyFerretti

Candidates running in Jackson's Special Election today are hosting election watch parties this evening. Information for the individual events is listed below.

John Horhn Election Watch Party 7:30 p.m. Central City Complex 609 Woodrow Wilson Ave. Food and refreshments will be provided.

Harvey Johnson Pre-Election Tailgate -- Fish Fry and concert 4-8 p.m. Smith-Wills Stadium Lakeland Drive

Chokwe Antar Lumumba 7 p.m. Jackson State eCenter 1230 Raymond Rd.

Tony Yarber Classics Bar and Lounge 5571 Robinson Rd Ext.

Margaret Barrett-Simon Her home 1322 Hazel St.

Regina Quinn 7:30 p.m. Lakeover Center 6531 Dogwood View Parkway

Melvin Priester Priester Law Firm 5375 Executive Place

April 7, 2014

Lumumba Explains Approach to LGBT Rights, Human Rights Commission

By Donna Ladd

Mayoral candidate Chokwe Antar Lumumba posted this statement on his website about his plans on a City Human Rights Commission, which "review and monitor all city contracts and engagements" for discrimination, including for sexual orientation:

Establishing a Human Rights Commission has been part of the People's Platform since 2008, before the issue of equality became a hot topic in this special election. We have always advocated for human rights for human beings. This is nothing new to the People's Campaign. It's part of the principles that guide us. We will not seize the moment to politicize something that - in our opinion - is a basic human right. What we will do, however, is establish a City Human Rights Commission which would review and monitor all city contracts and engagements to ensure that vendors, contractors, and businesses involved in city work do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, national origin, nationality or class. The commission will also review and oversee each department, commission, authority, and agency of Jackson Municipal Government to ensure compliance with civil and human rights laws, rules, and regulations to protect all persons from any form of discrimination.


April 7, 2014

Harvey Johnson Accuses John Horhn of 'False Attack' on Him

By Donna Ladd

Former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. just responded to a Sen. John Horhn attack ad with this statement posted on his Facebook page. It is repasted here verbatim:

STATEMENT OF HARVEY JOHNSON CONCERNING FALSE AND MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENT OF JOHN HORHN Senator John Horhn mailed and passed out to voters a postcard falsely stating that I was responsible for increasing water bills by 100% while in office. The truth is this: During my last term as mayor the City imposed a modest water rate hike of 12 percent in 2011, the first increase in six years. After I left office last July, the Mayor and the City Council increased water rates by 29 percent and sewer rates by 108 percent. If I had been in office last year I would not have increased rates that dramatically at one time. Just two days before the mailer was dropped, Senator Horhn, at a mayoral forum conducted by the Working Together Jackson organization, pledged to refrain from attacks on his opponents. Clearly, he should have come clean at that event by admitting that his next order of business when he walked out the door would be to launch a false attack on me.

In a separate flyer, Horhn promotes himself as a "fit, strong and robust black man who's ready to take this city forward" and criticizes his various opponents. That one is posted below as well as the flyer mentioned above.

April 6, 2014

Flood Warning for Pearl River at Jackson

By Todd Stauffer

The National Weather services is reporting a flood warning for the Pearl River in Jackson; the river is already assumed to be above flood stage (at 28 feet) and could continue to rise throughout the week to reach high levels on Wednesday and Thursday.









April 5, 2014 | 1 comment

Harvey Johnson Responds to JFP HUD Article and Councilman Melvin Priester Jr.

By Donna Ladd

Johnson sent this statement this morning, in response to this recent JFP article. It's pasted here verbatim:

STATEMENT OF HARVEY JOHNSON REGARDING JACKSON FREE PRESS ARTICLE Having read the article in the Jackson Free Press, “Repayment of HUD Funds Emerges as Election Issue, ” I was struck by the poor attempt at political hay being made by our new councilman from Ward 2 on a matter that he should be fighting to resolve in favor of the citizens rather than quickly agreeing to write an astronomical check to a federal agency over a questionable dispute.

As a former mayor and an advisor to Mississippi towns for 40 years, I have on many occasions had disagreements with HUD about their interpretations of CDBG regulations. I have worked in and with the CDBG program since its inception in 1975, and I am therefore thoroughly familiar with the program’s objectives.

When it comes to HUD and other federal agencies, I have found that the best approach when there are questions of interpretation or disputes of facts is to vigorously negotiate and take advantage of the administrative appeal process, even if it means meeting with the HUD Secretary or the White House, to achieve a satisfactory resolution. I have gotten federal officials to change their positions entirely or greatly reduce the amounts of money in dispute.

The letter from the city to HUD referenced in the news article appears to be the culmination of a negotiation process lasting only three months, which is an extremely short period of time to resolve a dispute with HUD involving that many issues. In my mind, conceding so early and for such a large dollar amount reflects a lack of experience and understanding in dealing with HUD programs by the person or persons who, rather than stand up to the HUD bureaucracy, chose the easy path to turn over local taxpayer money , while blaming the whole thing on the guy out of office. Such an approach is a bad precedent for the city. We certainly don’t want some bureaucrat thinking he can shake us from our lunch money, just because he thinks he can.

My decision in connection with this matter would have been to refrain from throwing in the towel so quickly by casually writing a check from the city’s general fund made payable to HUD. During my previous administration the city was not intimidated by federal bureaucrats acting contrary to the best interest of our local citizens. I will bring that same determination to my next administration.

As far as I can tell, the Council has not yet voted on making payment to HUD. I encourage the Council to hold up doing so until the new mayor is sworn in this month, who hopefully will be someone with the knowledge and experience and leadership traits that will protect our taxpayers from bureaucratic overreach.

April 4, 2014

Mayoral Money Race Order Unchanged After Priester, Johnson File Updates

By Donna Ladd

Melvin Priester Jr. filed a 48-hour report today showing that he has raised $6,150 more in mayoral contributions. That brings his total to $110,785 by our math to Lumumba's $138,801. Horhn is in third with $104,593

Harvey Johnson Jr. has raised $7,000 more in campaign dollars this week according to his 48-hour report, bringing his total to $67,355.

(For the record, both of these reports and some earlier ones are near-illegible, which is disconcerting coming from serious candidates for mayor. Priester, for one, spent a lot of his JFP interview talking about getting details right. Why not start during the campaign?!?)

To summarize, As of 5 p.m. today, this is where the money stands based on reports legally required to be filed:

  1. Chokwe Lumumba: $138,801
  2. Melvin Priester Jr.: $110,785
  3. John Horhn: $104,593
  4. Tony Yarber: $95,716
  5. Harvey Johnson Jr: $67,355
  6. Margaret Barrett-Simon: $54,680
  7. Regina Quinn: $38,968

Read our original April 2 report about initial April 1 filings and where cash-on-hand stood then.

View all campaign finance reports in the JFP Document Morgue.

April 4, 2014

Tillman: Removed Lumumba Mural Not 'Authorized' or 'Permitted'

By R.L. Nave

Acting Jackson Mayor Charles Tillman issued the following statement on the removal Thursday of a mural honoring late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba:

“On behalf of the Administration, employees, and citizens of the City of Jackson, we reiterate our honor, our respect, and our love for the late Honorable Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. The past few weeks have been difficult on all of us, yet the business of the City of Jackson has demanded that we move forward.”

“It came to our attention that one of our City-owned parks had been painted with certain words, slogans, and designs that had not been authorized or permitted by the City. Consistent with our policies and City ordinances, the painting was removed.”

“In continuing our quest to honor the memory and legacy of our late Mayor, our actions, in this instance, were in keeping with Mayor Lumumba’s high moral and ethical standards that we were fortunate to experience.”

April 4, 2014

Jimbo and St. Paul...

By tommyburton

If you wander around Duling Hall this weekend, you're bound to stumble upon some great music.

Tonight, there's Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition rocking the house.

Tomorrow is St. Paul and Broken Bones, who will bring the funky soul to Jacktown.

Also, tomorrow is the last day for Morningbell. You should totally grab that Linda Rondstadt LP you've been eyeing for the past 8 months.

April 4, 2014

Rukia Lumumba Shocked, Hurt by Removal of Mural Honoring Her Father

By R.L. Nave

Rukia Lumumba, daughter of late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and sister of mayoral candidate Chokwe A. Lumumba, wrote the following letter about the removal of a mural honoring her father. It is published here verbatim:

Open Letter to Jackson, Mississippi on the Painting Over of the Mural in Tribute to My Father, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba

I am both saddened and disappointed to hear of the decision to paint over the mural that was created in tribute to my father, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. The mural was created by Derrick Perkins & several young artists to honor my father by displaying his mantra " One City, One Aim, One Destiny" on a city park's wall. The mural was painted prior to my brother’s decision to run for Mayor and absent my family’s request or knowledge. That is why it was especially hurtful and came as a shock to learn that the mural was painted over due to complaints, by a few, that the message of the mural was too close to my brother, Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s platform. When my father passed away on February 25th, the number of people who said publicly that he had done more for the city of Jackson in eight months than many had done in years, was innumerable. My father’s mission and vision was to ensure a city that was made ever stronger, economically, spiritually and ethically. That my brother, Chokwe Antar, has, after deep consultation, chosen to carry forward that mission, should not be disparaged.

For me and many residents of Jackson, MS that mural served as memorial and a reminder of the love my father had for the City of Jackson. It served as a constant call to Jacksonians, near and far, that we must work together to help Jackson RISE! The mural embodied my father's vision - a vision rooted in growth, unity, democracy and cultural diversity. I am sincerely grateful to Derrick Perkins & the many young artists who took the initiative to put their creative genius to work, and created such a beautiful and fitting tribute to the man I knew as Daddy and whom many others knew as friend and Mayor Lumumba. Although this is disappointing, my family and I remain encouraged and steadfast in our commitment to walk in his memory. As my father often said, "God, plus love, plus people's power equals progress."

Thank you all for your prayers and continued support.

One City, One Aim, One Destiny!

Rukia Lumumba

April 3, 2014 | 1 comment

Chokwe A. Lumumba #JxnMayor Endorsements

By R.L. Nave

The Chokwe Antar Lumumba camp issued a list of endorsements (below). For clarification, Lumumba's press release incorrectly attributed a quotation from the JFP's recent endorsement of Lumumba to photographer Trip Burns.

Jackson, MS, April 3, 2014– This afternoon government officials, business leaders, and community supporters will gather at Smith Robertson Park on High Street at 4:30 p.m. to announce their endorsement of Atty. Chokwe Antar Lumumba for mayor.

Among those set to attend today’s announcement is: Councilwoman LaRita Stokes, Hinds County Supervisor, Kenneth Stokes, Rep. Jim Evans, Atty. John Reeves, business owner, Charlotte Reeves, Atty. Isaac Byrd, Atty. Dennis Sweet III, Atty. Dennis Sweet IV and Grace Sweet, and business owner, Harvey Freelon.

Currently, the Mississippi Alliance of State Workers of America, Local 3570, AFL-CIO, local newspaper, Jackson Free Press, and Central Mississippi Building and Construction Trade Council have officially announce their support of Mr. Lumumba and believe in his mission of furthering what he calls, “The People’s Platform.” Jackson Free Press journalist, Trip Burns, explains their sentiment for endorsing Mr. Lumumba saying, “While only 31 years old, he exudes a discipline and quiet determination that people many years his senior haven’t mastered. His articulation of a framework for a, “unity, debate, unity” style of governance is something we appreciated.” AFL-CIO union president, Brenda Scott, adds, “We find that he [Lumumba] possesses a genuine desire, like his father the Honorable Chokwe Lumumba, to continue the vision of bringing new economic ideas to the city anchored in green job creation, living wages, and strong worker protections.”

April 3, 2014

Tony Yarber #JxnMayor Endorsements

By R.L. Nave

We got this list of endorsements the other day from the Tony Yarber camp. It's verbatim, but we think they meant April 1 in the first line:

On March 1, 2014 at 10:30 am at the Yarber for Mayor campaign headquarters (932 N. State Street) approximately 10 pastors endorsed Councilman Tony Yarber for mayor of the city of Jackson, MS. Rev. Jesse Sutton, the so-called “Dean” of pastors in the state and pastor of New McRaven Hill MB Church, made very profound comments about Yarber, stating, “I do not need a script for Tony. I have known him all of his life.”

Below is a listing of pastoral endorsements for Tony Yarber:

Pastor Baron Banks Pine View Presbyterian Church

Pastor Jimmie Burse Pastor, Holy Ghost Baptist Church Moderator of COMBDA

Pastor R.E. Cook Greater New Jerusalem

Pastor John C. Evans Cathedral A.M.E. Zion Church

Pastor Thomas Jenkins New Dimensions

Pastor Jay Johnson Abounding Grace

Pastor Julius Laird Wayside Church of Deliverance

Pastor M.V. May Rehoboth Church

Pastor Willie Macula New Hope MB Church

Pastor Charles Polk St. Luther MB Church

Pastor Ernest Slaughter New Canney Creek MB Church

Pastor Bobby Stapleton Rehoboth International Ministries

Pastor Arty Stuckey Restoration Baptist Church

Pastor Arthur Sutton Progressive MB Church

Pastor Frank Sutton Fairfield Baptist Church

Pastor Jesse Sutton New McRaven Hill Baptist Church

Pastor Clyde Tate Antioch Baptist Church

Pastor Willie Tobias Progressive Morning Star Baptist Church

Pastor Marek Walker Cherry Grove MB Church

Bishop Isaiah Williams Potter’s House Church

April 3, 2014

MIss. Baptist Convention Lauds Gov. Phil Bryant's Signing of SB2681, 'Religious Freedom' Bill

By Donna Ladd

The following statement just came in, verbatim, from the The Christian Action Commission of the Mississippi Baptist Convention:

CAC’s Jimmy Porter Attends Signing of the MS Religious Freedom Restoration Bill

Jackson, MS., April 3, 2014–Jimmy Porter, Executive Director of the MS Baptist Christian Action Commission, attended Gov. Phil Bryant’s signing SB2681, the MS Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

On Tuesday, SB 2681 was approved by the state House (79-43) and Senate (37-14). Mississippi is now one of 19 states that have passed a RFRA since 1996. This law is based on the federal law introduced by now U.S. Senator (then U.S. Representative) Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). The federal version passed 97-3 in the U.S. Senate, unanimously by voice vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Dr. Jimmy Porter released the following statement:

“The MS Religious Freedom Restoration Act is an affirmation of MS Baptist’s 1991 resolution that the free exercise clause of the First Amendment 'require government to demonstrate a compelling state interest before it is permitted to burden our religious freedom.' In 1993 the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed by Pres. Clinton establishing religious protections from the federal government. The bill signed by Gov. Bryant will provide the same religious protections at the state level that have been available at the federal level.”

“The Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission does not accept the prevailing idea that a person’s expression of religious faith ought to be confined to the four walls of a church. People of faith ought to be free to express their religious convictions in public with out the fear and trepidation that the government could violate their religious rights. Mississippians share this ideal and this is why we take serious our freedom of religion from governmental tyranny.”

“The freedom to express a person’s religious faith in Mississippi is under intense attack, and one need only look at the extreme opposition to this bill protecting religious liberty as evidence for the need of it.”

The Mississippi Baptist Convention has more than 695,000 members in over 2,100 churches in the State of Mississippi. The MS Baptist Christian Action Commission is an agency of the Mississippi Baptist Convention established to address moral, social, and ethical issues.

April 3, 2014

Who voted for Mississippi SB2681, the 'Religious Freedom' Bill?

By Donna Ladd

Mississippi State Senate 2014 Regular Session YEAS AND NAYS. The yeas and nays being taken, the Report of Conference Committee on S. B. No. 2681 was adopted:

Yeas--Brown, Browning, Burton, Chassaniol, Clarke, Collins, Doty, Fillingane, Gandy, Gollott, Hale, Harkins, Hill, Hopson, Horhn, Hudson, Jackson G. (15th), Jolly, Kirby, Lee, Longwitz, Massey, McDaniel, Montgomery, Moran, Parker, Parks, Polk, Smith, Sojourner, Stone, Tindell, Tollison, Ward, Watson, Wiggins, Wilemon. Total--37.

Nays--Blount, Bryan, Butler A. (36th), Butler K. (38th), Dawkins, Frazier, Jackson R. (11th), Jackson S. (32nd), Jones, Jordan, Norwood, Simmons D. T. (12th), Simmons W. (13th), Turner. Total--14. Absent and those not voting--Carmichael. Total--1.

April 2, 2014

Rally Against SB2681 Noon Thursday at Mississippi Capitol; Prayer Vigil at 5:30 p.m.

By Donna Ladd

Opponents of SB2681, the so-called "Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act," which many fear is permission for anti-gay "Jim Crow" laws, will gather at the Mississippi Capitol for a rally on Thursday (April 3). Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, will speak on the Capitol steps at 12:30 p.m.

Simmons, who is black, has become a favorite of SB2681 supporters, due to his fight against the bill. He said on the floor of the Mississippi Senate on April 1 before the bill passed: "If you have never been discriminated against, you don't know how that feels. If you have never been discriminated against, you don't know how to feel discrimination. I urge you to vote against this bill because it legalizes discrimination."

A prayer vigil against the bill is scheduled at the Capitol at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

April 2, 2014

Did Myrlie Evers endorse Sen. John Horhn for mayor?

By Donna Ladd

The John Horhn for mayor campaign sent footage of civil-rights hero Myrlie Evers last week for a paid ad on the JFP website of Mrs. Evers saying nice things about his "forward" leadership. The quote that has run on the JFP website in the ad for about the last week is "John's Horhn's motto is the way forward. Forward looking, forward acting, forward leadership. And that's exactly what we need today."

Today, we were a bit surprised to see a story by Jerry Mitchell in The Clarion-Ledger indicating that she is not endorsing a candidate and is telling people "to vote for a candidate of their choice."

The footage clearly indicated that Evers was backing Horhn and perhaps using scripted language: His campaign slogan, after all, is "The Way Forward."

We called the campaign today to ask if Mrs. Evers had backtracked on her endorsement of the senator. LaureNicole Taylor of the Horhn campaign respond: "No backtracking. She never said she is supporting John," she told reporter Haley Ferretti.

Still confused, I then asked to speak with her, and Taylor told me that Evers "can't officially endorse one particular candidate," but that she does support John Horhn.

Taylor, who sent the original footage to our advertising department for the ad, told me today that it should be taken down. I relayed that message to our advertising team.

Clear now?

April 2, 2014

Group Wants Public-Education Funding on 2015 Ballot

By Donna Ladd

More over, Personhood supporters. Public-education backers are working to put funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program on next year's ballot—being that the Legislature simply refuses to fully fund it.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal is reporting that Jackson attorney Luther Munford has filed the initiative language on behalf of a group called Better Schools, Better Jobs:

The Mississippi Adequate Education Program is the formula passed in 1997 that determines how much funding each school district should receive. It has been traditionally underfunded, however, including a shortfall of more than $1.3 billion during the last six years. This year’s appropriation is more than $250 million below what the formula requires.

The state’s constitution leaves little recourse if legislators don’t fund MAEP, Munford said. The initiative would change that.

It would require Mississippi to use money from economic growth to fill the void. Its language says at least 25 percent of new growth of general fund revenue would go into MAEP over a period of years until it was fully funded. It does not require a new tax.