Tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., the Mississippi House of Representatives will vote on an alternative initiative to the education funding ballot initiative that over 100,000 Mississippians signed on for last year.
This deliberate act led by Republican leaders to confuse and undermine the public’s intent is quite perplexing after Governor Bryant's strong declaration a few weeks ago that the public is in charge education in Mississippi.
Perhaps it is the large number of constituents who are employed or have children educated through public schools, or perhaps they took the Governor’s earlier mantra to heart, but about 13 Republican legislators have indicated they are opposed to the alternative language.
Speaker Philip Gunn, however, needs these 13 votes for Tuesday morning. According to sources, these 13 Republican legislators were taken into the Speaker’s office one-by-one and told they would lose their chairmanships and have $100,000 spent on their primary opponent against them this year. The backer of this $1.3 million? A candidate for office from Madison County with substantial financial resources.
This will be the first time in Mississippi history that the legislature has proposed an alternative to a ballot initiative by the people. If the people are in charge of education in our state, then the people should be voting on the initiative as they signed off on it. But instead, the Legislature is sending Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden around to tell folks that they’ve met their "promises," and intentionally misleading the public through an alternative to the initiative.
Educating our children is a promise that has not been met - it is a necessity to improving our state. It is a necessity to turn around our continuous abysmal performance on every list imaginable, from the highest rates of incarceration to the worst places for business.
It is absurd to think that Speaker Gunn, arguably the most powerful elected leader, is threatening his moderate Republicans in order to cater to Tea Party reactionaries who do not understand that everyone suffers when we do not invest in our greatest asset - Mississippians.