One of the biggest supporters of the Ballot 42 Initiative, the Parent’s Campaign/Nancy Loome, had the following narrative on her group’s website. I find it interesting because the rhetoric we hear so frequently is that the MAEP has only been fully funded twice, legislators have broken the law and Republican legislators and the GOP are anti-public education. Read this narrative, and I will point out its significance at the end of it.
Per the Parent’s Campaign:
“MAEP Fully Funded in 2003, 2007, 2008, and 2009
Prior to the “Great Recession,” support among legislators for adequate school funding was strong. The formula, passed into law in 1997 and phased in over a number of years, was fully funded for the first time in 2003. Four years later, bolstered by strong constituent support, Governor Haley Barbour, in his 2007 State of the State address, declared that the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) would be fully funded every year that he was governor.
And, a few months later, in the 2007 Legislative Session, the MAEP was, indeed, fully funded for only the second time in its history (funding in the 2007 session was for Fiscal Year 2008). Furthermore, the Legislature voted to appropriate full funding for the MAEP in the next two legislative sessions as well – in 2008 and in 2009. But, in each of the fiscal years for which those funds were appropriated, revenue came in below the projections on which the appropriation was based, and Governor Barbour made the decision to cut school budgets mid year. The full funding that was appropriated did not make it into school budgets in either of those two years (FY2009 and FY2010).
By the 2010 Legislative Session, the recession was on full-bore, state revenue was down significantly, and full funding was off the table.”
So what we have here is the most truth that I have ever seen from any 42 supporter. Why do I find this significant?
1. It clearly shows that under Republican leadership, legislators HAVE made public education and fully funding our schools a top priority.
2. Even Nancy Loome appeared to understand, if the money isn’t there, there is nothing that any legislator can do to change that.
3. The MAEP was never intended to be fully funded in 1997 upon the bill’s passage. It was actually to be started in some districts on a 2 year trial basis and phased into all districts within 5 years. The first year that MAEP should have been fully funded, according to the bill, was 2003. The legislature did fully fund that year.
4. Unfortunately, Mississippi was devastated by Katrina in 2005, and that greatly impacted our state and the funding of programs and departments statewide. This was a natural disaster that no legislator had control over.
5. The housing market crashed in 2008, yet legislators fully intended and passed fully funding MAEP in 2008 and 2009. By the Parent’s Campaign’s own commentary, the state revenue just wasn’t there, but their intentions were good and in support of fully funding our schools.
After reading this, I have to ask these questions. Why do 42 supporters act as if Republicans do not care? Why are they not discussing the natural disasters and state of the economy that tied the legislature’s hands in fully funding our schools? Why do they keep saying that it hasn’t been fully funded for 18 years when the most years that it could have been fully funded is actually 12 years? Why do they say it has only been fully funded twice, emphasizing that those years were election years, and leave out the details of it being passed to be fully funded four times? (By The Parent’s Campaign’s own admission, the revenue wasn’t there for two of the four years – legislators had no control over that). If they want to claim that legislators intentions are not good, then why did the commentary state that there was strong support for fully funding our schools prior to the recession?
I guess we already know the truth. This has never been about education, funding, MAEP, the truth or the law. It’s all about power and control. The devil is in the details, and 42 supporters seem to like omitting the details that show the truth.