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Mississippi’s School funding cuts among the nation’s deepest

May 21st, 2014

Cuts hurt economy in short and long term

Jackson, Miss.— Mississippi spends $648 less on education per student than it did prior to the recession in 2008. These unnecessary cuts deepened the recession, slowed the recovery, and will make Mississippi less prosperous in the future. Mississippi has cut investment in K-12 schools by 13.1 percent since 2008, a deeper cut than 40 other states, according to a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. The last year Mississippi fully funded K-12 education was 2008, since then the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) has been underfunded by a total of $1.3 billion.  MAEP is the formula used by the state legislature that ensures all school districts get adequate funding. “The key to good schools is fully funding MAEP every year,” said Sara Miller, Senior Policy Analyst for the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. “Mississippi students deserve an education system that will prepare them for the future. Without full funding for public education in Mississippi, we are denying them a chance at future success.”

State revenue declined sharply during the recession. But instead of addressing budget shortfalls by taking a balanced approach that includes new revenues, Mississippi relied very heavily on cuts to state services, including education. Even as revenues have begun to recover, Mississippi has only reinvested a small fraction of the education funding that was cut during the downturn, leaving a decrease in spending per student still 10th highest in the nation, taking inflation into account. Mississippi’s K-12 education cuts hurt the state’s economy in the short- and long-term. The cuts slowed the economic recovery by causing both public- and private-sector job loss as school districts throughout Mississippi laid off teachers and support staff, reduced pay for the remaining staff, and canceled contracts with private businesses. “In the 2014 budget year alone, MAEP was underfunded by $293 million and teaching positions were cut. This trend cannot continue. Investments in our future economic growth as a state begin today by investing more in our K-12 education system,” said Miller.

A strong education system is essential to creating and maintaining a thriving economy. Businesses need a well-educated workforce, and education cuts undermine the state’s ability to produce workers with the skills needed to compete in a global economy. “By investing in our students, Mississippi will insure they are ready to take on the world…literally. Students need to be ready for jobs in the new technologies of a global economy.  The only way they can be is by receiving a strong education from the beginning,” said Miller.

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The Center’s full report can be found at: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4011.

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