Education Supporters Ask Governor to Spend Reserves

By: Ashley Conroy Email
By: Ashley Conroy Email

Lawmakers, teachers, and educators rallied at the Capitol Tuesday to ask Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to restore part of the nearly $500 million dollars in cuts to education.

Some lawmakers say the governor has nearly $750 million that he's currently holding in reserves.

In a colorful speech, Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory used a dry erase board to illustrate his points.

"What if I were to tell you that the governor has at his disposal $100 million, sent from the Congress for the purpose of spending that now," Bryan said.

University and Colleges chair, Rep. Kelvin Buck says this is a matter of priority for Mississippi.

"We know that these dollars are in existence and we know that they're in reserve." said Buck. "And we know that they're available to be used, and we say this is a question of priority."

These lawmakers and educators are asking for at least $80 million to go back to K-12, community colleges, and universities throughout the state.

Buck says this amount will help offset some of the cuts that have been sliced from the budget.

"Most of these institutions have already done what is necessary to do their part," he said. "Now it's time to do our part."

Farae Wolfe, from the Greenville School District, said these education cuts have already been felt there. She says the district has issued furloughs and cut back on school supplies.

"Even in our district now, we're seeing the impact of cuts as they trickle down. And it affects quality of education, it affects morale; it affects the operation of things full circle," Wolfe said.

In the meantime, House Education chairman, Cecil Brown, proposed a resolution in the House to extend this year's session to resolve Mississippi's budget crisis. The full House didn't accept this resolution, but House Democrats are expected to propose the resolution again in the next several days.

Gov. Barbour has said that budget troubles are likely to remain for at least a few more years. He's resisting spending all the state has in reserve.

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