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SPLC Challenging Governor's Budget Cutting Authority
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Gov. Bryant calls the SPLC lawsuit a "meaningless academic exercise"
Mark Rigsby - MPB News

A civil rights group is filing a lawsuit against state leaders in Mississippi over education funding.
As MPB's Mark Rigsby reports, the suit claims school funding cuts violate the state constitution.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's lawsuit challenges Governor Phil Bryant's authority to make budget cuts. The group says only the state legislature, and not the Governor, can reduce the state budget.
Will Bardwell is the Senior Staff Attorney for the SPLC.

"What he can't do is circumvent the legislature. Deprive them of their constitutional authority to make budget making decisions, and do it arbitrarily do it himself. Unfortunately, that's what he's been doing."

A 1983 Mississippi Supreme Court decision says budget control is a function of the executive branch.
Barwell says the decision also defined legislative budget making. He says that's what the case is about.

"So, obviously this case is going to come down to the difference between budget making and budget control. When it comes to changing the amounts allocated to state agencies, that's budget making. That's a legislative responsibility."

Bardwell says the SPLC is asking to reverse $20 million in cuts to state education funding this year. They also want a Hinds County judge to freeze budget cuts from further taking effect. Governor Bryant calls the lawsuit ridiculous, and a "meaningless academic exercise." He says the lawsuit puts the state's credit rating in danger.