Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Democrats + Public Education = Greater Support

Republicans must be feeling the heat from public education supporters on the campaign trail. Given the Republicans' shortchanging of Mississippi's public education system, it makes perfect sense.

Take a journey with me to 2011, the most recent year where Democrats had leverage in the appropriations process, to see for yourself which party truly supports public education and which does not. 

In 2011, the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed its Department of Education appropriations bill funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) to the tune of $1,835,713,885. Republican leaders such as now-Speaker Philip Gunn, now-Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden, and now-House Education Committee Chairman John Moore were among a small number of members who joined their Tea Party colleagues (the Tea Party used to be a thing) and voted against higher levels of public education funding passed by the Democratic leadership.

Meanwhile, in the Phil Bryant-led Senate, Republicans unsuccessfully attempted to cut education funding to $1,754,374,491, a proposal roughly 4.5 percent lower than the Democratic plan.

The final product hammered out between House Democrats, Phil Bryant's Senate Republicans, and Haley Barbour resulted in funding MAEP at $1,808,129,050 - an amount closer to the Democratic position than the Republicans'. In short: Democrats' negotiating strength led to more support for public education funding than would have passed under the Republicans.

This is another example of Democrats putting their money where their mouths are while Republicans accept less support for public education and call it a success. We now find ourselves in an election year where Republicans like Speaker Gunn and Greg Snowden champion education spending while they have voted against greater support for public education. One could say that the flip flopping by Gunn and Snowden constitutes being "full of it." As has been stated, "You can be a Republican in Mississippi, or you can support education, but you can't do both."

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