Should the State be required to provide for the support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?
Summary:The amendment will protect each child's fundamental right to educational opportunity through the 12th grade by amending Section 201 so that the state must provide and the legislature must fund an adequate and efficient system of free public schools. The recommendation is to finance this not by new taxes but by using a portion of future increases in general fund revenues over the next seven years in order to reach the necessary level of funding.
Section 201: Educational opportunity for public school children
To protect each child's fundamental right to educational opportunity, the State shall provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.
Amount and Source of Revenue Required to Implement the Initiative:
For purposes of the initiative, a minimum standard of contemporary adequate education is described by the funding formula of the current version of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and an efficient education is one that will, among other things, enable Mississippi's public school graduates to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states.
Funding the initiative will not require a reduction in, elimination of, or reallocation of funding from any currently funded programs. The initiative will be funded by maintaining current funding levels for public education through the 12th grade adjusted for inflation, and then devoting to public education not less than 25% of future increases in general fund and other tax collections in order to achieve the constitutionally required level of adequacy and efficiency in the public educational system by a target date of Fiscal Year 2022 and maintain it in the future. For example, the state's general fund revenues are projected to increase over Fiscal Year 2014 levels by approximately 3% annually, which will produce an additional $150 million in Fiscal Year 2015. Twenty-five percent of that would be $37.5 million. A similar amount for seven years would reach the additional $265 million a year in current dollars which will be needed to provide Mississippi's public school students with an education that is adequate and efficient by contemporary standards. This initiative is not intended to restrict or meaningfully reduce the overall percentage of general fund revenues devoted to public schools, which at present is approximately 40% If enforcement is necessary, injunctive relief will be the preferred remedy.