Vote Against Both

Initiative 42 and Initiative 42A Analysis

This week, the State Board of Election Commissioners released the official ballot for the November general elections, including two proposed Constitutional amendments, Initiative 42 and Alternative 42A.

A copy of the ballot, which includes the fiscal analysis provided by the Legislative Budget Office, can be found here.

When voting, the first question voters will see is whether they want to approve either of the initiatives or if they want to vote against both. We recommend you choose to vote AGAINST BOTH.

All voters will then be able to vote for either Initiative 42 or for Alternative 42A, regardless of how you answer the previous question. We then recommend you choose to vote FOR Alternative Measure No. 42A, which does not contain most of the harmful components of Initiative 42.

At Empower Mississippi, we want to see every child in Mississippi have the opportunity to flourish through access to a quality education. We want parents to have more control over their child’s education, not less. Initiative 42 is an unmitigated disaster that disenfranchises parents from the education policy debate by eliminating their elected voice: the State Legislature.

Here are the facts on Initiative 42:

• Initiative 42 removes the legislature from the education funding and policy-making process and places all public education decisions in the hands of one judge in Jackson. There would be no limits on what this judge could do. This judge would determine the interpretation of the “adequate and efficient” clause in Initiative 42 and would be able to set funding levels and even dictate the curriculum choice or school district consolidation. The judge could decide that high-performing districts, or those with a solid local tax base, are getting too much money from the state and that money should be transferred to low-performing districts.

• Initiative 42 says nothing about funding, about the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), or a phase-in of additional tax dollars into our public schools. If a judge demanded full-funding of MAEP immediately, the money would have to come from somewhere. This demand would likely result in tax increases, draconian cuts to other state priorities, or both. If the voters want a prudent, phase-in of increased education spending, they should re-elect Republican legislators, because that is exactly what they have done the last four years. Since Republicans took control of both chambers of the legislature in 2011, education spending has steadily increased each year. This year, a record $2.5 billion was spent on education.

• Initiative 42 is a Democrat led initiative funded by DC liberals who do not share Mississippi’s values. The same groups that have funded Planned Parenthood and liberal causes like Obamacare and gay marriage have sent millions to Mississippi to promote this initiative. These groups understand that through this initiative they can fundamentally change Mississippi without having to win at the ballot box.

From America’s founding, a commitment to representative government has set us apart. We are a government “Of the people, by the people, and for the people” and that means maintaining our right to vote for the leaders who govern us. If we disapprove of our leaders, we have the opportunity to fire them and replace them at the ballot box. That’s the American way. Initiative 42 would remove that right, and place the responsibility of setting education policy for the state in the hands of one judge who most of us will never have the opportunity to vote for. This is a recipe for disaster.

In November when you vote, you should evaluate your legislator based on his or her voting record. If you agree with that record, vote to re-elect; if you don’t, vote for someone else. But regardless, vote against Initiative 42 so that you will have a voice on education decisions long into the future.

Grant Callen
Empower Mississippi
9/10/15