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Mississippi House not willing to retreat from their position on education funding


JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – House members are spelling out how much they’re willing to stick by their new education funding plan and what that could mean for your child’s school district.

”It’s going to be a position that we’re not going to retreat from,” said Speaker Jason White Thursday.

“Not only do we not want to retreat from it, we feel like we can’t with such a large show of support,” said Rep. Jansen Owen on Friday.

Rep. Jansen Owen is laying out exactly what “not retreating” on education funding may look like.

“Logistically, we’ve got 125 days the Constitution gives us to be in session,” explained Owen. “And if we get to that 125th day, and we don’t have our INSPIRE plan passed, we’re going home. We’ll have to come back at a later date.”

He says they’re willing to leave without an education budget if that’s what it comes to. But stresses it doesn’t mean your child’s school will go without the needed funding.

“I’m sure there might be some dramatics or something like that,” he said. “But you know, reality is we’ll get called back that has happened before. The Governor would have to call us back or you know, in COVID, we held days and we came back once we figured out what we were going to do.”

Owen says that’s how much they believe in their plan that scraps the current formula. House Education Vice Chairman Kent McCarty says they feel a responsibility to keep fighting.

“We’ve got a formula that ensures that that money goes to the school districts that are in the most needy situations,” added Rep. McCarty. “I think we’ve got that coming from the house with a huge bipartisan vote. And the kids that really, really will be impacted by this money are the ones that we’re trying to give it to.”

By their math, nearly all districts would get more state money than they’ve ever received. For those that would see a decrease, there’s a 3-year hold harmless provision to phase in those cuts. As budget negotiations start up, the conversation isn’t one of let’s come together to see which plan is best….it’s more of a take it or leave it for the House and the INSPIRE Act.

“The ball’s in their court,” said Owen.

The session is set to end May 5. The Speaker tells us they hope to have the budget complete by the April 15th and expects this issue could be the final item keeping them in session.

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