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Cuts Threatened If Education Funding Initiative Passed
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House Appropriations Meeting Held July 7, 2015.
Paul Boger

State agencies may need to prepare for dramatic budget cuts next year. That’s according to Mississippi lawmakers who say a proposed education funding amendment may spell trouble for the state budget.

During a brief meeting with lawmakers at the Capitol yesterday, the leaders of nearly every state-funded agency and program were told they needed to come up with a plan that would reduce their budgets by 7.8 percent for the next fiscal year.

That’s because a proposed constitutional amendment known Ballot Initiative 42, would require lawmakers to fully fund Mississippi’s public education system.

Patsy Brumfield is with 42 for Better Schools. She says the possibility of cuts is a scare tactic.

"The thought of rushing out there and scaring other agencies, scaring voters, scaring parents that fully funding the education of their children will somehow be harmful is really a very low, cynical, political ploy," Brumfield says

According to the language used in the proposal, only new money brought into the general fund by revenue growth would be required to go to education. But Republican Herb Frierson, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, says putting an additional $250 million into education would be just like a recession to those state agencies.

“I think if we knew there was a recession coming and I called that meeting to tell everyone to prepare for the recession would that have been a scare tactic?” Frierson asks. “No, it wouldn’t have. We know this is possibly going to happen so let’s go ahead [and] plan for what may happen”

Leaders of state agencies have already expressed concern over the possible budget cuts. They say many state programs are already significantly underfunded.