State of the States
Winners and Losers in Barbour’s Budget
Gov. Haley Barbour insists Mississippi can continue to improve its public schools without pouring bunches of new money into the K-12 system.
Nonetheless, teachers should receive an 8 percent pay raise for the second straight year, and the state’s education finance formula should be funded at record-high levels, the Republican governor said during his State of the State Address on Jan 11.
But the governor’s plan falls short of what some lawmakers and many education leaders in Mississippi are demanding. ("Mississippi Marchers Pressure Lawmakers on K-12 Aid," this issue.)
Gov. Barbour, who took office last year, proposed a 4 percent increase in general state aid for schools and the restoration of funding for teacher supplies that had been cut last year. But “noninstruction portions” of the K-12 budget would face the same 5 percent cut as much of state government—including colleges and universities, under the proposal he outlined in last week’s speech.
Overall K-12 spending would climb slightly, to $2.1 billion, an increase of about $57 million, or just under 3 percent.
“Putting teaching first and focusing on the classroom are about more than money,” Mr. Barbour said.
The governor, who focused mainly on economic development in the speech, also lobbied for his proposed Upgrade Education Reform Act of 2005. He said the plan, drafted after meetings with hundreds of educators, includes bonuses for teachers who raise student test scores and a scale-back of state regulations for Mississippi’s highest-rated school districts.
Vol. 24, Issue 19, Page 18