/Voucher funding mislabeled as non-existent ‘savings’ program; AG asked to weigh in

Voucher funding mislabeled as non-existent ‘savings’ program; AG asked to weigh in

The Republican leadership slipped into the appropriations bill to fund the Department of Finance and Administration language last week to transfer $2 million to Education for the Education Savings Account. There isn’t such a program. The Education Scholarship Account is a public fund that provides funds for students in special education to study private education. This account was authorized by the leadership. Although an official opinion from the attorney general’s office doesn’t carry the weight law, it provides some protection to public officials who follow the opinions. The Department of Finance and Administration have always followed the advice of the attorney general. Baria, the House Democrat Leader, asked the attorney general “Does the Department of Education possess the authority to redirect funds to a fictitious programme?” To further confuse matters, Baria said that there are similar programs in state law such as the Mississippi Affordable college Savings program. Finally, he asked how can legislative intent be known since the budget for Finance and Administration was not explained to members prior to their vote. This issue caused a lot of excitement last Thursday and Friday when leaders put $2 million in the Department of Finance and Administration budget bill, to increase voucher program funding. The members were not informed that the funds were included in the budget bill of the department that oversees the state’s finances. The leadership members added the language in the final days of session in a hurry to make the program more clear. Laura Hipp, spokesperson for the Lieutenant Governor. Tate Reeves said that the incorrect naming of the program was “much ado about little.” It is a typo. I’m sure it can be fixed, as often as typos in legislation are.” Meg Annison spoke for Speaker Philip Gunn and agreed that mistakes can be fixed provided they do not alter policy. Senator Hob Bryan (D-Amory), who has been a vocal opponent to the voucher program, said there are ways in the legislative process that can fix obvious errors. Bryan stated that fixing something like this during enrollment is acceptable. After the bill has passed both chambers, the enrolling process takes place before it is sent for signature to the governor. The program is correctly named on the legislative website. The incorrect program name was used in the earlier version that the members voted on last week. In order to correct obvious errors, committee chairs often ask for unanimous consent in the closing days of the legislative session. With the voucher language, no such effort was made. This is unlikely that legislators would have given their consent to such a request. They were unhappy at the fact that the language was included in the bill without being informed. The secretive language and the agreement were included in a bill of 20 pages that was filed on Thursday at 5 p.m. It was passed in less than an hour. Reeves and other supporters of the program say that the ESA program aids special needs students who are unable to attend public schools. Opponents claim it takes money away from public schools and only provides limited assistance since it aids a small portion of the over 60,000 special education students. Since the Republican Reeves was the main advocate for including the language into the appropriations bill, it is now that Hood’s office is being asked to comment on the matter. Hood and Reeves are both considered the favorites of their parties in the governor race later in this year. Hood said that a panel made up of senior staff members would rule on official opinions submitted to his agency._x000D