A measure that would put more $2.5 billion towards Mississippi’s K-12 public education system is heading to the Governor’s desk for his approval. But the bill still falls more than $200 million short of full funding the state's schools.
At $2.5 billion, the bill passed by the Senate yesterday, will put more money towards public education in fiscal year 2016 than at any other point in state history.
Republican Senator Terry Burton of Newton is the Vice-Chair of the Appropriations Committee. He says the education funding bill was passed before other spending measures, to show that it's priority for lawmakers.
"We're going to get it out of the ay so that's not in the mix when it comes time to start moving monies here, there and yonder," says Burton. "We got education funded, it's over there and there are vehicles available to us down the road if we need to do additional things in education where we could plug in a little bit here and a little bit there and so forth."
While the funding bill would put nearly $110 million more into education over last year’s budget, almost half of the increase is already earmarked for the second part of a teacher pay raise. The funding bill also falls more than $200 million short of what state statutes require.
Patsy Brumfield is with a public education advocacy group pushing for a constitutional amendment that would force the state to full fund schools.
"There's just clearly no will here to spend money that's available on our state's future which is the better education of our children," Brumfield says. "It's stunning. It's shocking. It's horrifying. It doesn't make any sense to the general public."
Since 2008, the state has underfunded K-12 public education by about $1.5 billion.