Gov. Barbour slashes education funding by $114 million; Rep. Brown says cuts unnecessary

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Jackson, MS – On Thursday, Sept. 3 Gov. Haley Barbour announced a state budget cut for public education of 5 percent. State law permits the Governor at the end of October to make cuts up to 5 percent in the state budget when state revenues fall 2 percent or more below the state’s fiscal year revenue estimates.

House Education Committee Chair Cecil Brown shot back that deep cuts in education can be avoided if the Governor utilizes a portion of the state’s “rainy day” reserves and a portion of remaining discretionary stimulus funds instead.

Interim State Supt. of Education John Jordan announced the 5 percent cut will cost education $114 million. School districts will lose $103 million in the funding they receive through the MS Adequate Education Program.

The Governor contends that school districts will receive more money this year than last year. House Education Chair Cecil Brown, also on Mississippi Public Radio, noted that the reason school districts this year are receiving more funds than last year is only because in the Fall 2008 Governor Barbour made unilateral steep cuts in public education funding. The full funding of MAEP in 2009 was intended to make up for the Governor’s cuts in 2008.

Now, Brown lamented, local school districts are facing new deep cuts on top of last year’s deep cuts. The 5 percent funding cut, Brown said, will put many low-wealth districts at significant risk because they had to spend down their reserves to cope with the Governor’s deep cuts last year.