In 10 days, Mississippians will decide how to vote on Initiative 42. It would require the legislature to fully fund education and allow a chancery court judge to enforce the law.
"It's not the court's job to make sure the legislature does it's job," said Gunn.
That's House Speaker Phillip Gunn. He says Mississippians elected legislators to speak for them, not judges. Gunn along with Governor Phil Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney urged people not to support 42, at a Hattiesburg news conference. Instead, they say Alternative 42A is the better option. It makes funding education the sole responsibility of the legislature. Governor Bryant.
"To any way insinuate that these men and the courageous men and women in the Mississippi legislature some how don't care about education is reprehensible," said Bryant.
Bryant says it's a power grab to take control of funding. He says the state ranks seventh in the nation for board certified teachers and gave examples of allocations to education, including $100 million in teacher pay raises, $39.5 million for literacy coaches and nearly $300 million for K-12. Forty-two supporters say the legislature has ignored the 1997 Mississippi Adequate Education Program. It requires fully funded education--something done only twice in 18 years. Supporter Jim Keith.
"The real issue in this is, the legislature or some members of the legislature do not want oversight with respect to decisions that it makes regarding public education," said Keith.
The 2016 education budget fell short of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program by about $201 million dollars. Republicans say full funding would require cutting other budgets.