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Lawmakers Forge Ahead Toward Passing Ed Funding Bill

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Lawmakers Forge Ahead Toward Passing Ed Funding Bill
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House Dem. David Baria in appropriations committee meeting
Desare Frazier

Mississippi Lawmakers in the House are forging ahead with a new bill to fund public education.

Lawmakers in the house appropriations committee voted yes to the Mississippi Uniform Per Student Funding Formula Act of 2018. The bill provides a base rate of $4800 per student. There's additional funding for categories such as low income and gifted students. It keeps the 27 Percent Rule, meaning no district will have to pay in more than 27 percent of its education costs. A consultant recommended removing the rule saying it favors wealthier districts. But it's in there. House Democrat David Baria of Bay St. Louis.

"You have to address that or you're not really doing much other than just making it a little bit simpler for superintendents to know what their budget is going to be," said Baria.

Removing the 27 Percent Rule for 2019 would hurt some districts like Pascagoula which would lose $14 million. That's in Republican Charles Busby's district.

"Well that's the way it's been since MAEP so we're just simply not touching that piece of it. Will it be addressed in the future one day? Probably so," said Busby.

The current formula, Mississippi Adequate Education Program, has been fully funded only twice in 20 years. House Democrat Percy Watson of Hattiesburg says MAEP isn't the problem.

"We tend to divert the revenues of the states to various other entities giving too much tax relief," said Watson.

The measure goes to the House for a vote, possibly today.