Leaders should focus, not squabble

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, September 24, 2015

State lawmakers are in the infant stages of tackling the state budget for the 2017 fiscal year as budget committee members met for the first time this week. And of course partisan politics have taken over once more in Jackson with both sides claiming the other is playing politics with the people’s money and their November vote.

Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who heads up the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, warned that pumping more money into education funding could prevent other state agencies from providing efficient services.

Critics, or rather the Democrats, claim this is a scare tactic to try to kill Initiative 42, the education funding proposal that will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot.

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Reeves said this week it is “responsible budgeting to plan for all scenarios that are out there.”

Holly Springs Democratic Sen. Bill Stone, who favors I-42, asked why are Republicans so fearful that “Mississippians will make a statement of support and commitment to public education by voting for Initiative 42?”

Initiative 42 is the proposed constitutional amendment that would require the state to fully fund public education and allow citizens to file a lawsuit in chancery court if that funding falls short.

The state legislature countered with its measure, Initiative 42-A, which also will be on the November ballot, opposing Initiative 42. 42-A would also require the state to fully fund the public school system “without judicial enforcement.”

Legislators believe I-42 could hand over control of public education funding to a judge.

The Oxford EAGLE will meet with candidates, including House and Senate, in editorial board meetings in the coming month leading up to November’s election. We will talk to the state candidates about 42 and pass along information about the initiative that will help you make decisions as a voter.

Ultimately, while we support fully funding public education, we’d rather see our state elected officials figuring out how to best use those education funds and find solutions to the education issues facing our state rather than argue over who has control of the purse strings.

Education is way too important to the future of Mississippi than to allow our state elected officials to play politics instead of focusing on the problems our children face.