Lost in the debate over how much the state of Mississippi should spend on schools this year is an equally important question: How much should the state be expected to spend on schools in future years?
The current school funding formula is adjusted every year to account for inflation and is recalculated every four years to cover changing costs.
But Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and other Republicans have said any new formula shouldn’t be automatically recalculated, instead leaving lawmakers more discretion over spending. Bryant said Monday there should be no requirement to fully fund the amount, even though lawmakers ignore it now.
“One of the things I know the Legislature doesn’t want to do is have this as a dictatorial formula — one that says you shall fund it every year,” he said.
Reeves said other state agencies don’t benefit from automatic increases in budget recommendations.
“There’s not a predictable inflation rate in the lieutenant governor’s office, now should there be,” Reeves told The Associated Press on Friday.
That could mean the level of funding falls behind inflation over time, even if it grows in current dollars. That could even be true if lawmakers adopt recommendations put forth by the nonprofit group EdBuild to increase the amount of state spending by $75 million. That’s a 3.3 percent increase, but if it’s phased in over a number of years, that could be overtaken by inflation.
The consumer price index rose by an average of 1.4…
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