Don’t be fooled by misinformation and lies

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 3, 2015

The opponents to Initiative 42 are on the attack spreading lies and using citizens’ basic fears to convince them this is bad for Mississippi. Don’t fall for it.

In 2014, 200,000 registered voters signed petitions to create Initiative 42. It provides a roadmap for fully funding education without tax cuts or increases. It gradually, over seven years, phases fully into effect using natural growth in state revenues. That means money like the BP settlement money will not be counted as revenue.

Revenues have increased on average 4.8 percent during fiscal years (FY) 2008 – 2014. This includes the two years of bad economic numbers due to the Great Recession when revenues decreased by 4.2 percent in 2008 and 4.9 percent in 2009. Revenues through 2022 are projected to grow 3 percent annually. Even in the worst economy since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Mississippi’s revenue did not fall anywhere near the 7.8 percent cut in state departments budgets being proposed by House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson.

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Using these averages and projections, the phase-in plan offered by the petition calls for using only 25 percent of the 3 percent growth ($37.5 million of the $150 million projected revenue) to reach the additional $265 million a year needed to provide Mississippi public school students with an adequate and efficient education by contemporary standards. This would only take seven years.

The petition clearly states: “Funding this initiative will not require a reduction in, elimination of, or reallocation of funding from any currently funded program.”

It is important to remember that MEAP is the law. It was adopted in 1997, and has only been fully funded two of the last 18 years. Both years were election years.

Since 2008, Mississippi public schools have been shortchanged by $1.7 billion.

Supporters of Initiative 42 understand Mississippi’s limited financial resources and are not asking for complete funding immediately upon passage of the constitution amendment. That is the reason for the phase-in formula. Tate Reeves, Phillip Gunn and the legislature have made the unprecedented move to create an alternative to Initiative 42 and drafted the wording of both on the ballot to confuse the voter. There are only two things to remember when you enter the voting booth: (1) vote for approval of either initiative and (2) for Initiative Measure 42.

Watch for Democratic sample ballots that will list how to make sure the will of 200,000 registered voters statewide is passed. Sample ballots of the initiatives have also been posted on our Facebook pages- Pearl River County Democrats and Picayune Democrats. It is also on our website

If we continue to underfund our schools and remain 50th in education, no industry will dare bring their plant or facility to Mississippi.

Who wants to train their workforce on their specific job and teach them to read at the same time?

Truth is, many of our children do not read well enough to complete the job application let alone write a resume and complete tax forms if hired.

This must change. Let’s do that on November.

By Agnes Dalton.