Lawmakers cut to schools supplies a mistake

Published 12:24 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

Once upon a time in Fairyland, the overseers of our land made a wonderful decision—and even wrote it into law. First, they raised sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, the money to be directed to K-12 public education.

Of that amount 9.61 percent of this windfall tax for education was directed exclusively for classroom supplies.

Just think of the fruit such a gift would produce in Mississippi classrooms. Maybe some teachers wouldn’t have to provide their own copy paper. Perhaps students could get the tools needed to help them learn.

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Now that is a wonderful folktale, one that has been retold in some years so that the details get a little blurred. After all, who keeps up with what some old 26-year-old law specified? How could the legislature back then really anticipate the cost of running the state in 2017?

But 2017 did come around. And the State collected $36 million dollars to be dedicated to classroom supplies. But that windfall was sifted before it got down to classrooms.

Specifically, $24 million of that money was erased by tax cuts to foreign corporations. Oh, the joy stockholders of those companies must have felt, that all that money was coming from little old Mississippi. Why, some of it might go into their classroom supply fund!

If all these words recounted events in a real Fairyland, we might turn the page now and calmly move on to reality. But there’s the rub: the Fairyland is here, is Mississippi, is the state whose law require the legislature to provide funding for adequate education. They’ve done that once or twice since the law was enacted. They have robbed MAEP just as thoughtlessly as they’ve robbed the classroom supplies treasury.

So here we are again. A major political party in Washington that seems unable to deliver on all its promises. A major political party in Mississippi that ruthlessly steals from our treasury to enable corporations to gird up their profits by demanding lower taxes.

How sad that citizens cannot go down to the Highway Patrol office and swear out a warrant against the Legislative power brokers who callously ignore the law!

We have the money in the Capitol– just the wrong priorities.

TJ RAY is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.