No Deposit, No Return | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

No Deposit, No Return

If you were the melodramatic type, you might call it a nightmare. Barely a year into the new mandates, and increased (and largely unfunded) costs, of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, public school districts in the state fear that the state Legislature may not even fully fund them as much as they're required to under state law. Adding insult to injury, the new Republican governor did not even mention the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) in his State of the State Address.

Instead, Gov. Haley Barbour alluded to the fact that there just may not be enough money in the state's dwindling coffers to do the right thing for K-12 public education—that is, to equalize the resources traditionally distributed very unevenly in this state.
"For too long, we have judged politicians' commitment to education by how much money they are willing to spend," Barbour told the state on Jan. 26.

Ouch.

The new governor did follow that up with "We should be judging politicians' commitment to education by the results they demand and achieve for our children." But weary public-school officials know that the "accountability" (as in high-stakes test scores) that the federal government is now demanding is coming at a very high cost—and disproportionately affecting the schools that can least afford the remediation often needed to get those scores up to par. Three-fourths of the state's schools made the grade this year, but they need adequate resources to continue the gains.
"With No Child Left Behind requirements, as well as state accountability, we have more pressure on local school district staff than ever before," said Judy C. Rhodes, director of the Mississippi Department of Education's Office of Educational Accountability.

'That's how serious this is'
This latest scare comes after a brief political respite last year—during an election year. Both Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, and the state Legislature, went for the idea that they should actually fund the Adequate Education requirement—after a three-year rollback on the funds. Education officials fear that another stall is on the way.

"I am very concerned about where funding of MAEP stands right now," Rhodes said in the hall at the Capitol. "Based on government budget recommendations, districts would basically have to reduce basic services by $160 million or increase revenues." She added, "Some 4,000 teachers could be affected. That's how serious this is."

In addition to teacher salaries, MAEP helps provide "adequate"—not exorbitant, mind you—resources for little luxuries like school buses, classroom supplies, roof patches and mold removal. Even books. The Legislature passed the act in 1996 to require that public-school funding would be adequate across all districts, instead of simply "minimal."

This was not been the case historically in Mississippi, a state that used to have no hesitation in putting fewer resources into largely African-American school districts. That started to change in 1982, after Gov. William Winter fought for, and won, historic education reforms. After that, state funding of education reached 46.5 percent of the state's budget. But other state programs, especially healthcare and prisons, started eating up more of the pie, with education's share falling to a low of 39 percent and eventually reaching last year's 43 percent. To help solve this problem, in 1992, lawmakers raised the sales tax by 1 percent, ostensibly to create supplemental "Educational Enhancement" funds to pay for basic educational needs. But the Legislature quickly started substituting education's General Fund dollars with Enhancement funds. While the sales tax had brought about $1.9 million in education enhancements, education lost $1.9 million in general funds, creating a funding wash for education.

In 1996, the Legislature responded again to those education shortfalls, enacting the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. The equity-funding law required the state to fill in the funding gaps between poor districts and property-rich districts and ensure that every child has access to an "adequate" education and that every school had the resources to achieve "Level III" accreditation.
The MAEP funds are now promised to districts, under law, and the districts make their spending and hiring decisions based on that promise. But in the last two sessions until January 2003, the Legislature reneged on the promise, underfunding Adequate Education by $59 million, education contingency funds by $57 million and the public school building fund by $20 million. The number would have been even higher in 2002 had the state not used some of its rainy-day funds to fill in some of the gaps.

Will they, or won't they?
But even with state law ostensibly on their side, public-school officials have to start every legislative session wondering whether their funding that they've already been promised will be there. And that's stressful. Dr. Henry Johnson, state superintendent, says that by fully funding the program early on, "local school [district] officials will be able to plan with more accurate numbers."
Johnson wishes the Legislature would follow last year's lead and fund Adequate Education early and first. "There was full funding for the program by the end of January last year," said Johnson.
This year, though, may be different. It's not an election year, and there's a governor in the mansion whose support for public education is lukewarm at best. And he's obsessed with decreasing spending without raising any tax for anything, no matter how vital.

"There seems to be a general sentiment of no increased tax revenues," Rhodes said, "or no revenue enhancements. … All state budgets are at critical points. These are very difficult decisions."
Without the funding, the districts may be hamstrung, especially with the ever-heftier federal mandates. For instance, No Child Left Behind has raised the bar on teacher hiring, requiring that districts hire certified teachers, and toughening the requirements for certification. Without full funding, it is more difficult to attract and hire teachers. Mississippi ranks 49th in the United States for average teacher pay and last in the Southeastern region.

Barbour did say in his State of the State that attracting good teachers is important, and that he supports funding the teacher pay raise, which is in its fourth year of a five-year plan. However, he did not address Adequate Funding, which will also affect districts' ability to hire and retain good teachers.

Trickle-down Shortfalls
The Legislative Budget Office (LBO) is recommending a reduction in Jackson Public Schools of $3.8 million, meaning that it would lose that amount from its operating budget, which includes teacher salaries. The teacher pay raise is included in the LBO's overall budget, meaning that, if the teacher pay raise passes, JPS will have to pay for both the $3.8 million shortfall, as well as the $6 million that the teacher salary increases will cost the district—in essence becoming an underfunded mandate on the district by the state, much as No Child Left Behind is a burdensome federal mandate. In effect, the shortfalls trickle down to the district level.

Thus, districts are caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle of scrambling for cash, even as the federal accountability deadlines loom. "It's almost a Catch-22 situation," JPS deputy superintendent Ron Sellers said last legislative session. "[The federal act] is forcing the state and school districts to do things we want to do, but where does the money come from? We're already stretched pretty far. If it's not there, it's not there."

City districts such as JPS face a steeper climb than suburban districts, which have an easier time attracting new, younger teachers with lower salary needs. At the same time, many JPS teachers are reaching retirement age or are just not interested in (or can't afford) going back to school to meet the stringent "highly qualified" requirements of No Child Left Behind. And, as Greg Kelly, director of teacher recruitment for JPS, points out, many good teachers are scared away from largely black urban districts by overblown crime rhetoric that is often based more on perception than reality.

Add the state and local challenges facing public schools together with new federal mandates, and it's not hard to see how the pressure is beginning to mount. And without the basic "Adequate" funding that the state has promised, the districts may be facing never-before-felt challenges. Public-school officials maintain hope, however, even if they do not currently know how to gauge the tenor of the Legislature.

"At the beginning of the budget process, it never looks good," Rhodes said.

Previous Comments

ID
77654
Comment

The Clarion-Ledger this weekend followed up on our story of last week, repeating Judy Rhodes' warnings in our issue about the effect that not honoring the MAEP law could have on public schools. http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0402/14/ma02.html They also reported new comments Barbour made on Friday, after the above JFP story came out: Gov. Haley Barbour, who spoke briefly at the meeting where Rhodes spoke, said nothing to relieve educators' fears. He said his first priority is job training and jobs. The only change he made in the Legislative Budget Committee recommendation was for higher education budgets. "I want to be open and honest and say I hope we can get money for K-12. But I did want to look you in the eye and tell you that my priority is to keep community colleges and universities from being cut $100 million," Barbour said. "I hope you will think that's the right thing to do. And if not ó don't throw anything too heavy," Barbour said. These are breathtaking comments: "hope we can get money for K-12." They also play to the ignorance of people who think that MAEP is about *additional* funding for public schools over what they're already spending/budgeted. No. Underfunding MAEP, in effect, is like not writing the check for services you've contracted. It's funding that brings resources for certain poorer districts/schools up to a baseline level so they pay for teachers, books, supplies, vocational ed, special ed (including federal mandates) and gifted programs. Read my lips: This is about CUTS. This is simply not a debate over giving "more" money to public schools than they're already getting. That should be clear from the story we wrote above, but the phrasing by Barbour and anti-public school folks often obscures it. It's quite simply astounding that Barbour would openly argue that funding for community colleges is a higher priority than providing the most basic funding to ensure that every child in Mississippi can get an "adequate" education. We are looking at a prime danger of turning back the clock on the education reforms that have been achieved in the state.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-15T20:12:31-06:00
ID
77655
Comment

From Mississippi Code" SEC. 37-151-5. Definitions. As used in Sections 37-151-3, 37-151-5 and 37-151-7: ††††††††† (a)† "Adequate program" or "adequate education program" or "Mississippi Adequate Education Program (M.A.E.P.)" shall mean the program to establish adequate current operation funding levels necessary for the programs of such school district to meet at least Level III of the accreditation system as established by the State Board of Education, acting through the Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation, regardless of the school district's geographic location.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-15T20:19:36-06:00
ID
77656
Comment

Here is a column Mr. Bill Minor wrote about MAEP a couple weeks ago: The heartbeat of public education is the Mississippi Adequate Education program, now known as MAEP, which provides subsidies for poorer school districts with a thin tax base in order to raise their education level to an adequate, competitive level. Enacted in 1996, the subsidy plan is credited with warding off lawsuits against Mississippi similar to what many states have faced for failure to provide adequate educational funding to districts with a poor local tax base. Several key faces have changed around the legislative halls since last year, and, significantly, there is no longer an "education governor" sitting in the office in the middle of the Capitol. http://www.djournal.com/pages/story.asp?ID=51170&pub=1

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-15T20:21:38-06:00
ID
77657
Comment

In case you prefer your more conservative columnists, here's an excerpt of a Sid Salter column in the Daily Mississippian about Kirk Fordice's efforts to kill MAEP back in 1997. His comments are very pertinent today: Any notion of the "kinder, gentler" post-accident Kirk Fordice can be retired to the trash heap of Mississippi history -- for the old shoot-from-the-lip, anti-public education charlatan is back on the scene. The issue is clear. Children from small, rural school districts, and districts that have in many instances been abandoned by the majority-race students in favor of private schools have a right to a competitive level of educational opportunity. A child's future shouldn't be threatened because of the location of city or county of his birth in Mississippi. Kirk Fordice apparently could care less. Mississippi has spent 20 years and millions of tax dollars in the courts battling the Ayers Higher Education lawsuit and we're not through litigating or paying lawyers. The Adequate Education Program addresses a similar legal threat -- one that could produce even more dire problems for Mississippi taxpayers than did Ayers. Fordice apparently could care less. Whether or not Fordice can allow himself to speak the truth on the issue, there exists in Mississippi today a wide chasm between the school facilities, programs and opportunities for the children who live in poor rural or abandoned urban school districts and those offered the children of more affluent parents in better school districts. The Adequate Education Program attempts to address those deficiencies between school districts before the federal courts are brought in to order us to do so. Gov. Fordice's ham-handed attempt to destroy the Mississippi Adequate Education Program is one designed purely and simply to protect the "haves" in Mississippi from the "have-nots" -- which has little to do with Fordice's claims of adhering to a conservative political philosophy and loads to do with an elitist scheme to block additional state investment in poor, rural school districts by affluent taxpayers who in some cases have already abandoned the public schools in favor of private schools. [emphasis added] Read the rest The question today, of course, is whether Haley Barbour "could care less." I look forward to Sid's column about Mr. Barbour's hesitation to support MAEP.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-15T20:24:26-06:00
ID
77658
Comment

A *very good* editorial today in the C-L on Adequate Education funding: But this is not an either/or choice. Eroding education quality at the K-12 level impacts higher education and impacts economic development. Education is the No. 1 issue of the state and the No.1 issue in job creation. The gains that are being made under new accountability standards would be out the window. The efforts to recruit and retain top teachers would be severely damaged. Mississippi lawmakers who last year campaigned on supporting education, including the teacher pay raise, should understand this clearly: This is a retreat in basic education quality that cannot be tolerated. The Clarion-Ledger does a good job in this editorial of breaking down this issue beyond the uninformed rhetoric that it is about giving schools *more* funding that they already have. This is a cut, as we keep repeating over and over again.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-17T20:33:40-06:00
ID
77659
Comment

http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0402/17/leditorial.html

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-17T20:34:00-06:00
ID
77660
Comment

Whoa, look at Marshall Ramsey's great cartoon today on Adequate Funding. The C-L is hittin' on all cylinders on this very vital story right now. Cheers to them: http://www.clarionledger.com/news/editorial/ramsey/

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-18T20:14:04-06:00
ID
77661
Comment

ANOTHER good editorial from the C-L Thursday. I'm cheering them on this time. Public education is serious-ass business. As it is, teachers are being held to greater accountability standards which require top performance as part of the teacher pay raise package lawmakers approved in 2000. Congress, under President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, also requires more teacher accountability measures, without providing funds to carry them out. The state Department of Education, local districts, schools and teachers are already being squeezed to do more with less. Yet, funding levels would short state schools by $162 million, straining the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which provides the basics and forcing local school districts to cut services, water down instruction, lay off employees or raise local property taxes. Gov. Haley Barbour's "Operation Streamline" budget proposal did not specifically address education funding and accepted the Legislative Budget Committee's recommendation. In a letter to legislators Wednesday, he said he would work to restore funding to last year's level and opposes laying off teachers to accommodate funding shortfalls. http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0402/19/leditorial.html I will add, as I said on the "Streamline" post, just because Barbour's budget didn't spell out the Adequate cuts means he's off the hook. He accepted it and build his numbers around this $160 million not being there. I'll see what he says at the press conference Thursday and report back, but I don't see any way for him to wiggle out of this -- without capitulating and promising that he will push for full Adequate Education funding, which he may well do now that the media are united to get the word out about what's really going on. We're proud to stand with the C-L on this one.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-19T01:05:02-06:00
ID
77662
Comment

The Clarion-Ledger today addressed the double-whammy problem we wrote about in the above story last week (we call it an underfunded state mandate above). That is, districts will have to both absorb the cost of the teacher pay raise as they're trying to make up for lost Adequate funding. In their story, the C-L's figure for JPS comes in slightly higher than what we were given when you add the figures for the LBO Adequate deficit to the cost of funding the teacher pay raise. Not exactly sure why -- there may be a number they left out to me -- but either final figure ($11.5 million or our almost $10 million is a major deficit for the district. And JPS won't be the hardest hit district). http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0402/19/ma03.html Local school districts may have to absorb $93 million for a mandated teacher pay raise on top of getting $68 million less next year than they are getting this year. That's a $161 million hit. For Madison County schools, it means a $2.5 million loss, much more than $251,666 state educators calculated. For Jackson Public Schools, factoring in the teacher pay raise would mean an $11.5 million deficit, instead of the $3.5 million state educators calculated. Teachers say they don't want to see their raises pitted against the money schools should get through the Mississippi Adequate Education Program for the year that begins July 1. "A promise was made; a promise has to be kept on the pay raise. ... It should not be pitted against anything as it relates to education. I'd like to see all educational promises kept, whatever they were," said Geraldine Bender, a Callaway High French teacher for 19 years. ... School funds This year, public schools are funded at a rate of $3,676 per student. Under the Legislative Budget Committee recommendation, endorsed by Gov. Haley Barbour, for the budget year that begins July 1, they would get $3,519 per student. With full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and money for the teacher pay raise, they would get $3, 910. Source: State Department of Education Also, in their editorial today, they make another good point I didn't post above: Lawmakers cannot say they are not raising taxes when their cuts in state funds force local tax increases. Thanks, C-L, for pounding hard on this one. We can't let up.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-19T11:36:06-06:00
ID
77663
Comment

Speaker Billy McCoy says education *will* be fully funded, despite Barbour's recommendation. Emily Wagster Pettus reports for AP: Speaker Billy McCoy says the House will release its own budget next week that will fully fund public schools, cover a teacher pay raise and pay for all state employees' health insurance. He says all that will happen without a tax increase, but House chairmen said some fees might go up. They did not specify which ones or how large the suggested increases would be. McCoy said some state agencies might feel a pinch as lawmakers try to stretch dollars to cover a long list of requests. "I think it's impossible to have (a budget) without some pain," he said Wednesday. Budget proposals by Gov. Haley Barbour and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee would leave public schools $161 million short of what education officials say is needed for the fiscal year that starts July 1. State Department of Education leaders say that could cause up to 3,000 teachers to lose their jobs.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-19T21:21:41-06:00
ID
77664
Comment

I didn't attend Barbour's press conference today, but our reporter heard him speak earlier. From what she said, and the Clarion-Ledger is reporting online, he is still trying to say that he didn't propose education cuts in his budget, and is even doing his old RNC thing of blaming the media for twisting his words. Nothing was twisted here; his budget figures in Operation Streamline use the funding numbers suggested by the Legislative Budget Office, which recommended underfunding Adequate Education by $161 million. We're not dumb-asses; even if he doesn't come out in the budget and say "Haley is underfunding education," that's exactly what it means. Duh. Mississippians could use a little less subterfuge from our new governor here. At the press conference, it sounds like he rounded up some Republican legislators to blame the "education bureaucracy" and the media, and to say they're going to introduce a bill saying that the 3,000 teachers his budget will affect cannot be fired for 18 months. Thanks, Governor, but that's not good enough. You can't do an end run around the fact that you're supporting a $161 million cut in adequate education funding by promising teachers an extra few months of employment. Besides, what about the roof holes? Supplies? He's also trying to further the Bush administration policy of trying to decrease the number of public teachers who attend those damned "liberal" education colleges. Sigh. Uh, what does all this have to do with Adequate Education funding for poor districts? Can we focus here, Governor? http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0402/19/mbarbour.html

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-19T21:28:20-06:00
ID
77665
Comment

Re Barbour's defensiveness about reporting of his education cuts: Barbour has a national reputation for going after media that doesn't phrase reports appropriately. This is an excerpt from a book by veteran journalism and Columbia Journalism Review writer Trudy Lieberman about the conservative campaign to distance the word "cuts" from Medicare discussions: The Media Research Center wasn't the only cop policing journalists' vocabulary. Haley Barbour, then Republican National Chairman, vowed to raise "unshirted hell" with the news media whenever they used the word "cut." Barbour called network-news anchormen and correspondents, and held breakfasts and lunches with reporters, "educating" them on the difference between cuts and slowing Medicare's growth. Budget-committee chairman John Kasich phoned reporters warning them to avoid using the word "cut." Said Kasich: "I worked them over." The policework paid off. In September, MediaNomics reported "there has been a dramatic improvement in network labeling. Now half the time network reporters get it right labeling Medicare reform plans." The National Journal reported that the Los Angeles Times stopped referring to "cuts" and started calling them "reductions in future growth in spending." When Republicans passed their bill on October 19, CBS carried the story on "The Evening News." Linda Douglass, who had been criticized all summer by MediaNomics, got the words right. She told viewers that the Republican bill would double monthly premiums, create incentives to use managed care, and limit doctor and hospital fees, "all adding up to a savings of $270 billion in the growth of Medicare spending." Douglass stressed the word "savings," avoided the word "cut," and gave a positive spin to a piece of legislation that was hardly in the interests of most Medicare beneficiaries. http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/4248 Perhaps we should all just say that Mr. Barbour is "slowing education's growth" in Mississippi?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-19T21:46:51-06:00
ID
77666
Comment

It seems Barbour "didn't know" that his budget was under-funding schools. Clarion-Ledger today: With a steady barrage of calls going to the Capitol from education supporters, Barbour said Thursday he wants public schools to get about $165 million more than his initial budget recommendations. "I think everybody's goal is to fund K-12 at this year's funding level," he said. Speaking before a joint meeting of all three state education boards, Barbour said his earlier education budget recommendation, which was $161 million less than what schools are getting this year, was based solely on recommendations from the Legislative Budget Committee. "I just accepted what they put in there," said the Republican governor. "I'm hoping we'll be able to support K-12 at a higher level." Barbour said he initially supported the recommendation because he thought the $93 million for teacher pay raises was included. Public pressure may have played a role in the change in thinking at the Capitol, said Dale Sullivan, deputy director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. "I'm sure they've gotten a lot of calls." I'm not reassured, yet. Anyone else? http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0402/20/ma02.html

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-20T13:48:44-06:00
ID
77667
Comment

Another good C-L editorial today on education. Way to stay focused. They write: Lawmakers must fulfill obligations It's encouraging that Gov. Haley Barbour and legislative leaders are waking up to the fact that education must be fully funded. ... Local school officials have been concerned, and rightly so, that the Legislative Budget Committee recommendations were inadequate to fund education obligations under state law. It would mean layoffs of upwards of 3,000 teachers to keep up. It is essential that education be funded fully. ... [F]ully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Act is a basic state obligation. It's not a "frill," but a duty to ensure that every Mississippi child has the opportunity for the same educational quality, no matter the wealth of the particular district in which that child resides. To try to pass its costs to local districts is also a major failure. I have heard some of the worst innuendo and twisted facts and outright lies, and even slander aimed at children, in reaction to our story on this issue. Some people -- even some who wish to be public servants right here in Jackson -- will stop at nothing to see the public schools weakened. It is shameful. Good for the C-L, and other media around the state in recent days, for doing their civic journalism, and their homework, on Adequate Education funding. Some weeks I'm prouder to call myself a journalist than others, and this is one of those weeks.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-20T13:53:43-06:00
ID
77668
Comment

One more thing, and back to bed (I'm sick): I can't believe that Barbour is so ideological that he can't fathom raising a car title fee for the first time since the 1960s in order to help fund basic needs. "If it walks like a duck, it is a duck," Barbour said. "You can put it in a grass skirt and put it in a Hula-Hoop. It is a tax increase. I said I would veto any tax increase and I meant it." Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are generally siding with him on fee increases. "Most members of the House see a fee (increase) as a tax," said Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian. "I'm with the governor," said Rep. Frances Fredericks, D-Gulfport. "They are tax increases." Even with the fee increases being discussed as part of a House budget plan, Snowden and others doubt it would do much to trim the state's $709 million budget shortfall. Barbour's "Operation Streamline" plan seeks to chop the budget deficit by about half this year and eliminate the rest next year. Rep. Bill Denny, R-Jackson, said there are two avenues at the Capitol to pursue to deal with the state's budget woes ó "raise taxes or cut." He's in favor of cutting. Lawmakers are looking at fees that haven't been increased for years, said Rep. Bennett Malone, D-Carthage. The $5 fee to get a car title has not been raised since the mid-1960s, he said. Raising it, say to $10, would "generate a lot of revenue," he said. (same Clarion-Ledger story)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-20T14:18:44-06:00
ID
77669
Comment

Go, David, go. The C-L's David Hampton takes on the ill-informed bluster-mouths on talk radio today on public education. He writes: The Adequate Education Program is simple. The state establishes a base-line funding level that assures all students receive a basic level of instruction. That means poorer districts without a tax base get more to bring them up. Larger districts enhance the funding. No option There is no way the state could retreat on that without doing irreparable harm to education. It has to be funded. Any efforts to not fund or change the funding formula should be seen as a direct assault on education standards. The figure is the figure; fund it. If that means new taxes, so be it. In addition to scaring teachers, these budget games also bring out the real enemies of public education who complain that the state spends most of its money on schools. Listen to talk radio for a couple of hours and you will hear them, usually without a clue about the facts, complain about "throwing money at education." Former Sen. Grey Ferris said it best a few years ago when he said we might want to try "throwing money at education" because we surely never have done it. With all the agonizing over funding, Mississippi still ranks about 47th in our per-pupil expenditure for education. We don't put enough money into educating our children as it is and we surely can't afford to retreat on the gains we have made. You should read the whole thing Question to ponder: Is there intelligent life on talk radio? There may be soon. Keep your ear to the ground (or to the JFP). How's that for a teaser?!? ;-D

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-22T14:36:02-06:00
ID
77670
Comment

*Another* good editorial today from The Clarion-Ledger, this one about the inherent flaw underlyinb Barbour's "Operation Streamline" budget: Even Gov. Haley Barbour's ambitious "Operation Streamline" to chop the budget deficit by about half this year and eliminate the rest next year uses the LBO plan as its basis. In addition to forcing state employee layoffs and possible cutbacks in workers' health insurance, the LBO plan seriously underfunds education by $161 million, passing those costs to local taxpayers. Funding at that level would put school districts in financial straits, causing teacher layoffs. The House plan will not be the final plan, but at least it recognizes one reality that so far state leaders have not faced ó there must be new revenue in the budget. It could set the debate on a more even keel, looking at budget priorities and potential funding sources, so that lawmakers can get down to work and make the tough decisions necessary ó yes, including taxes ó to fund essential services. http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0402/24/leditorial.html The second editorial is good as well, exposing the "unfunded mandates" that the Legislature is trying to pass onto local governments. What I really like about what the C-L is doing over the last week is so is that they're backing up and looking at the big picture and how these issues are connected. That is very important and, once again, I applaud them for it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-24T16:16:28-06:00
ID
77671
Comment

C-L reports today: "Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and other Republican governors said Monday the federal government has provided states with enough money to meet the requirements of the controversial No Child Left Behind school reform law. That view is in stark contrast to one pushed by Democratic governors, who blasted the law as an economic burden. Governors from both parties are attending their annual meeting in Washington. Barbour said Mississippi doesn't need another cent in federal money for schools despite a shortfall in the state's education budget. 'I'm not going to ask for more money ... while there's a federal deficit,' Barbour said. The federal deficit this year is expected to be about $521 billion." http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0402/24/ma03.html What the ?!? Uh, there's a cart-horse problem here. Barbour is using the Bush deficit as an excuse not to fully fund the NCLB Act that Bush pushed for BEFORE the deficit had grown to such an awful size.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-24T17:11:49-06:00
ID
77672
Comment

The C-L hit another one over the fence today by taking on Barbour's ridiculous comments in Washington about Mississippi not needing one more federal education dollar. (What happened: He gets inside the beltway and reverts to the head of the RNC? Yuck. Hello, Haley, we're down heeeerrreee.) C-L editorial: Maybe being in his old Washington, D.C., stomping grounds prompted Gov. Haley Barbour to say Mississippi doesn't need any more federal funds for public schools. If Gov. Barbour would check with state educators, he would find the state is intent on complying with the federal "No Child Left Behind" law. But federal dollars are crucial. Perhaps he was buoyed by hobnobbing with fellow Republican governors up there after laboring to cut spending here at home that led him to say: "I'm not going to ask for more money . . . while there's a federal deficit." If so, his sense of fiscal restraint is commendable. But, whatever the reason, for the governor of Mississippi to say that our state doesn't need more federal funding for education is mind-boggling. ... In Washington, Gov. Barbour left Mississippi's children behind. http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0402/25/leditorial.html Damn, right.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-26T00:57:37-06:00

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus