Gov. Phil Bryant’s state budget proposal for the coming year again is a disappointing one for our public schools.
The governor has proposed increasing the kindergarten through grade 12 budget by 1 percent, or $22.4 million, but $16 million of the increase would go to a capital expense fund for building repairs.
In contrast, the governor proposed a 5.5 percent budget increase for th eight public universities and a 6.9 percent increase for community colleges.
We’re not here to oppose the increases for higher education. The state paid portion of college budgets has been in decline as tuitions have been raised to keep our state schools going.
However, we think the governor has done a poor job of allocating an expected $245 million increase in state tax revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.
Mississippi consistently has failed to meet its legal obligation to fund the public schools. Under the governor’s budget proposal, it will fall $284 million short next year.
Mississippi is in the bottom five states in spending per pupil at $7,928 in the 2011 fiscal year. All of our neighboring states spend more. Louisiana spends $10,723, Arkansas spends $9,353, Alabama spends $8,813 and Tennessee $8,242. And nearly one-fourth of Mississippi’s spending comes from the federal government, not the state.
The governor and the Republican-controlled legislature have not shown the proper commitment to our public schools and our children.
With tax revenues on the rise, our politicians can do better.