JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – It’s the last week of the 2023 Mississippi Legislative Session, and lawmakers start their week facing a midnight deadline to pass the state’s budget.
As lawmakers continue to haggle over the state’s budget, the House is at odds with the Senate on how public education will fit into Mississippi’s spending this year.
The Senate passed a bill that would allocate an extra $181 million into the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), a move that would fully fund Mississippi’s public schools for just the third time in the formula’s history.
On Saturday, House Speaker Philip Gunn said he’s not set on pledging anymore money to MAEP, but is open to alternative funding methods like a revolving loan program.
“I believe the formula is faulty. I think it’s outdated. We are not fond of the idea of putting more money into MAEP, but we’re certainly not opposed to spending more money on education. I think we will. I think we will come forward with a proposal to spend more money on education. But what we’re going to do is going to be outside the formula,” said Gunn.
In the Senate, their path to restoring a ballot initiative proposal may not be dead after all.
At the request of Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, the Senate passed a suspension resolution, reviving the bill and starting the process over.
To get something passed, the House would have to suspend their rules by a two-thirds vote and work with the Senate on a final version, a move that Gunn isn’t fond of.
“It’s my understanding that they passed a suspension resolution this morning. I don’t know what that accomplishes without knowing what the new proposal is going to be. Without knowing what new idea or proposal they’re going to make. I don’t know what point there is in taking it up,” said Gunn.
It’s still not clear what the revived version of the ballot initiative proposal would look like. It died in the Senate without a vote with the bill’s chairman citing insurmountable differences between the two chambers and lack of political will.