Mississippi's Lt. Governor is issuing a warning that efforts to require full funding of the state's K-12 education spending formula would damage higher education.
Both a law suit and constitutional ballot initiative are in the works to force state lawmakers to fully fund the Mississippi Adaquate Education Program which sets K-12 education spending levels.
Its roughly 300-million dollars under funded.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves used a budget hearing in Jackson to say says community colleges and universities are one of the few places that lawmakers could find the amount of money advocates are seeking.
"We can't take it from Medicaid because the federal government requires it. The third piece is the department of corrections. This year we spent about 340-million on the Department of Corrections. So we could come up with 300-million from corrections and close all of the prison. I don't think that is really a viable option," Reeves said.
Reeves is part of the 14 member joint legislative budget committee meeting with state agencies all week to hammer out a blue print for a budget for the next legislative session.
Community College Executive say Eric Clark says 300-million dollars is more than their entire budget for the current fiscal year.
"Obviously that would be a disaster. It would be a disaster for the state of Mississippi," Clarke said.
But Clark also pointed out that community college spending has a mandatory spending formula that has been routinely under funded, a detail that could be effected by the outcome of the lawsuit.
Institutions of Higher learning commissioner Hank Bounds, who has previously run the K-12 system in the state, says it is wrong to force the three education branches into a budgeting fight.
"If something happened where you took 300-million dollars our of circulation, I hope that we would look at all alternatives," Bounds said.
Hearings are continuing in Jackson today as lawmakers work toward a recommended budget for the session that begins in January.