School funding could split GOP base

Fights over education funding in Mississippi have divided mostly along party lines the past several years.

The Democratic-controlled House has pushed for more money for schools, while Republican Gov. Haley Barbour and the GOP-controlled Senate have said education can’t get everything it wants when the economy is rocky and money is tight.

Starting in 2012, the dynamics could become more complex – at least for the Republicans.

Many of the Republican-held Senate districts are in areas with growing public school districts, such as DeSoto County near Memphis, Tenn., and Madison and Rankin counties in the metro Jackson area. Republican leaders will have to find a balance between two very different groups of their own constituents – suburban parents who say they want more money to create topflight schools, and tea party conservatives who say government already takes too much cash from people’s pocketbooks.