Friday, August 13, 2010
House Education Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, claims Gov. Haley Barbour reacted before knowing all the details when he criticized a federal bill that will provide the state with $97 million for education, saving 2,000 teaching jobs.
Shortly after the U.S. House passed the $26 billion Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act Aug. 10, Barbour criticized the measure, claiming it would force the state to revise its already-passed budget to "meet the desires of the far left." Barbour said the bill requires states to fund education at the same levels as 2009 and, because of cuts to the state's education budget, the Legislature would have to put $50 million to $75 million back into the education budget, taking funds from other departments.
Brown said earlier this week that it was too soon to tell exactly how the state would have to meet federal requirements to receive the funds.
"We have several different ways to come up with the money," Brown said. "… We have lots of time to work through this, and for the governor to jump out and say we don't want to do this because it's bad for the budget is stupid, just to be honest with you."
To receive the federal aid, the bill requires that states meet a certain level of education funding, or a federal match. Brown said officials from the Mississippi Department of Education and other agencies are determining how to calculate that level. The bill factors falling tax revenues when determining a state's contribution.
Regardless of the state's contribution, however, Brown said the funds are badly needed.
"The state may or may not have to re-approve the budget, Brown said. "Even if we do, we don't need to be turning down $100 million for schools. ... I'm very concerned that the governor is posturing this in a way that will allow him to deny us the federal funds just like the (federal) unemployment money."
In June, Jackson Public Schools Board members passed a budget for the upcoming school year that is 12 percent smaller than last year, eliminating 125 teaching positions. But with classes in the district starting Monday, the federal funds won't make it time for the new school year. JPS spokeswoman Peggy Hampton said the district hasn't hired any new teachers in anticipation of the funds and is waiting to get more details from the state.
Mississippi Department of Education spokesman Pete Smith wasn't able to offer details on when districts could start hiring or rehiring teachers.
"The bill has just been passed," he said. "We are cautiously optimistic about the potential funds we could receive for Mississippi's education system. However, until we receive guidelines from the federal government on how much money we are going to receive, as well as the guidelines for that money, we won't exactly the know the impact of the funds. We hope we can receive information in the next few days but, realistically, it might be in the next few weeks."
This comes as no suprise. Haley is a member of the "PARTY OF NO". It just doesn't matter what the issue is or what it benefits, the answer is "NO". And by the way, will MS send back the 26MILLION unused federal funds awarded to the our Stat to assist with funding jobs for the unemployed? Just asking!
Hey Michael, This bill takes $11.6 billion out of the foodstamps program (which got a significant increase in funding last year from stimulus funds) and closes tax loopholes for corporations moving overseas. In other words, it pays for itself and will create/save approximately 300,000 teaching jobs in the nation. See this Washington Post article for more information.
- Lacey McLaughlin
M. Riddell, if you are so understanding of Haley Barbour's position on spending, please help me understand why this State will be sending back over 26million dollars because they only used half of the money allocated to the State to help with the unemployed. You should not be spending your savings here in MS if you could be working and adding to your nest-egg. Don't let these RICH folks get the message twisted. This sounds like tea-party rhetoric.