Sen. Hob Bryan (D-Amory)
Since January, the Mississippi Democratic Caucus has led a chorus of Democratic legislators in targeting the Republican budget. There's plenty not to like about the Republican plan but the education piece stands out. In both Barbour's retirement budget and Governor Bryant's inaugural budget, education is slashed considerably over last year's appropriations. In the coming days, it will be interesting to see how Republican Representatives and Senators who campaigned on education explain a plan that cuts elementary education by $73 million, community colleges by over $12 million, and Mississippi's four year colleges by over $18 million.
In a St. Patrick's Day press release, the Democratic Trust released statements from two of Mississippi's foremost budget experts. Sen. Hob Bryan (D-Amory) said:
"With the improving economy and improving tax collections, we have enough money to at least maintain last year's level of education funding. It's hard to believe that Governor Bryant would propose even deeper cuts to education when they simply aren't necessary. I don't remember the Republicans promising to cut education during the campaign."Rep. Cecil Brown (D-Jackson), a longtime budget negotiator in the House and former Chairman of the House Education Committee said:
"At a time when we should be preparing Mississippi students for success in an increasingly competitive job market, Republicans are proposing that we cut education by more than $100 million. This proposal is out of touch with out current needs."In a conversation this weekend, Brandon Jones, Executive Director of the Mississippi Democratic Trust, said, "There's no such thing as a competent jobs plan that does not include investing in education. Republicans in the legislature would do well to stop playing to their party's fringe and mind the store."