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Cuts to Education Will Have Long Term Effects on Mississippi

March 21st, 2012

A publication from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, entitled, “New School Year Brings Steep Cuts in Funding for Schools,” illustrates the continuing effects of budget cuts on state-funded services like education.  On a national level, many elementary and high schools are receiving less state funding than last year and are now funded at below pre-recession levels.

Key findings from this study:

  • State-level K-12 cuts have large consequences for local school districts as they have little ability to replace lost state aid on their own.  Cuts at the state-level mean that local school districts have to either scale back the educational services they provide, raise more revenue, or both.
  • Cuts in school funding undermine education reform and hinder the ability of school districts to deliver high quality education, further resulting in long term negative consequences for the nation’s economic competitiveness.

How does Mississippi Compare?

Mississippi falls on the lower end of the spectrum when looking at cuts across the states by the percentage cut with a 12.2% percent reduction in funding per student (see Figure 1).  Continuing cuts to Mississippi’s education program will diminish the quality of education of elementary and high schools.  At a time when the nation is trying to produce workers with the skills needed to master technologies in an ever-changing global economy, cuts in education funding threaten essential building blocks for future prosperity.

What this means for Mississippi:

In the figure above, many states have managed to increase their funding for education programs.  This growth in spending reflects policymaker’s prioritization of education funding despite fiscal stress.  While Mississippi is not as affluent as other states, there are still methods that our state can use to gain a greater capacity to invest in programs such as education.  These methods include increasing the sales tax base, updating personal income and corporate taxes, and reducing certain tax expenditures.¹Without a balanced budgeting approach that includes raising revenues, Mississippi will be less competitive when prosperity returns.

Author: Francinia D. McKeithan, Policy Analyst/ SFAI Policy Fellow

¹Sara Miller, Revenue Options for Mississippi’s Fiscal Crisis, Updated August 2, 2011

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