Support Initiative 42, ignore scare tactics: Column

First, some assert that 42 would require an immediate tax increase and/or an immediate cut of approximately 7.8 percent in all other state agency budgets. This assertion is not correct. The initiative petition specifies, explicitly, that funding increases are to be based on increases in general state revenues. If the economy grows in a given year and revenues increase, the petition calls for 25 percent of such increase to be used to augment the previous year’s funding. If in a given year no such increase occurs, education funding would not increase.

Based on revenue projections by the nonpartisan Mississippi Economic Policy Center, it will take approximately seven years, until 2022, to reach funding levels called for by current law. The initiative does not contemplate immediate full-funding in any form or fashion. The threats of required agency cuts or tax increases are simply inaccurate and misleading, and no one should fall for this divide-and-conquer strategy.

The second objection involves court jurisdiction. Existing state law places jurisdiction of any relevant legal challenge in Hinds County, and you may have heard opponents of 42 assert that “we don’t want a judge in Hinds County dictating our state’s education funding.” There are three flaws with this line of argument.

Jim Barksdale
7/26/15