Musgrove argues for ed funding

Published 3:56 pm Saturday, May 27, 2017

Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove made a good case for the Mississippi Supreme Court to mandate full funding of the adequate education formula. But it does not seem good enough for the justices to agree.

Musgrove, who as lieutenant governor played a key role in getting the Mississippi Adequate Education Act passed into law, went to court on behalf of 21 school districts who wanted $236 million the state underfunded them from 2010-15.

But the stakes are much higher than $236 million. If the Supreme Court ruled that the state owed those districts the money, it follows that other districts would expect their extra money, too. This would be a $1.4 billion mandate.

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Musgrove told the Supreme Court that the 1997 MAEP law requires full funding of the formula — something lawmakers have done only twice in 20 years. He further noted that the Mississippi Constitution says the state “shall” provide for the establishment and maintenance of free public schools.

In the big picture, education has fared pretty well with the Legislature during a very trying decade for the Mississippi economy. In the last few years, education spending has actually increased by small amounts.

Musgrove did not make the required compelling case that the Legislature’s decision is in violation of the law. It will be a true surprise if the Supreme Court agrees with him.

— The McComb Enterprise-Journal