Advocates for increased K-12 education spending in Mississippi appear to be at a crossroads over how to compel state lawmakers to provide more support to schools. There are two fronts currently operating in an effort to increase spending.
One push is being led by former Governor Ronnie Musgrove who oversaw the creation of the state's education funding formula, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.
Musgrove, who practices law at Musgrove-Smith law in Jackson is heading up a lawsuit to demand that legislators replace the roughly one-and-a-half billion dollars that has been left out of the formula in recent years.
"So that way schools don't have to wait eight to ten years or more to get the money of MAEP is necessary for them to meet the achievement goals as set out by the state," Musgrove said.
But at the same time, another camp of activists is collecting signatures to get a constitutional amendment requiring full-funding of MAEP on the November 2015 ballot.
The group, called Better Schools, Better Jobs, is being led by Patsy Bromfield who considers the lawsuit to be a detriment to efforts to increase spending in the long term.
"It seems a little financially irresponsible to try to recover 1.5-billion dollars from the state. As much as your sympathies might lie with that goal, it seems like a very draconian, difficult and irresponsible way to go," Bromfield said.
But both of these initiatives could play a secondary role by increasing democratic and moderate republican turnout in the 20-15 legislative election next fall.
Brandon Jones with the Mississippi Democratic Trust says that could help Democrats regain the majority in the Mississippi House.
"Don't get me wrong, it is a non-partisan initiative and we are not on the payroll for Better Schools, Better Jobs or anything like that. We certainly think with an issue like this at the forefront, we can't help but be anything but successful," Jones said.
Republicans lawmakers who run the budget process say either approach would wreck the state's finances and that full funding can be reached in the normal legislative process.