/How funding increase for private school program made it through legislative process in final days

How funding increase for private school program made it through legislative process in final days

When asked if a $1500 per year increase for teachers was sufficient, he replied, “The question though is what the taxpayers can sustain. What can the taxpayers fund? The Legislature doesn’t fund anything. Everything is funded by the taxpayers… We would love to do more. We could only do so much. This was all that the taxpayers could support. So we did what the taxpayers could sustain. Gunn was talking about $125 million in non-recurring funds (from taxpayers). There had been agreement to use a portion of that money – approximately $27 million – on various projects across the state. This included $500,000 for repairs to Tishomingo State park, $50,000 for animal shelter repair in DeSoto County, and $650,000 to expand George County’s road. This popular program allowed legislators to “bring home bacon” during an election year. The appropriations bill for Department of Finance and Administration included about 70 of these projects. The DFA serves as the state’s fiscal agent. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is the Senate’s President. He wanted $2 million more to a program that provides public funding for students with special needs to study in private schools. Reeves stated that he had met at least with the House speaker to discuss the plan. The Senate’s Appropriations Chair Buck Clarke (R-Hollandale); Pro Tem Gray Tollison (R-Oxford); and Finance Chair Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall) knew of the plan, but it is unclear if anyone else was involved. Some argue that legislators should have viewed the bill before they voted. Problem is, the agreement on DFA appropriations was filed Thursday at 5 p.m. and was up for debate in the Senate at 5/19 p.m. This was the last of over 100 budget bills that legislators dealt with in the last three days of the session. It was approved at 5:20. A list of 70 projects was distributed to members as it was being passed. Members might have expected to see the $2 million for Education Savings Account. However, they stated that they were only looking for projects in their localities and not for money for programs that would normally be funded by the Department of Education. The House had a similar situation, but no list was given. The agreement was already online when the House adopted it. Members had only minutes to go through a 21-page bill. They were searching for education money, not their project. It is unclear if the speaker was aware that the bill contained the project. Rep. Bill Denny (R-Jackson), explained the bill to members and said that he didn’t know. John Read, R. Gautier, House Appropriations Chairman, stated, “If they had known, I would have told them.” I have eggs on my face.” House Education Chair Richard Bennett (R-Long Beach) had promised members that he wouldn’t agree to any additional funds being added to the $3 million voucher program. This was a criticism by a legislative watchdog agency for its lack of accountability. It is unclear if Bennett’s comments were followed by Bennett’s remarks.