Prior to the “Great Recession,” support among legislators for adequate school funding was strong. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) formula, passed into law in 1997 and phased in over a number of years, was fully funded for the first time in 2003. Four years later, bolstered by strong constituent support, Governor Haley Barbour, in his 2007 State of the State address, declared that the MAEP would be fully funded every year that he was governor.
And, a few months later, in the 2007 Legislative Session, the MAEP was, indeed, fully funded for only the second time in its history (funding in the 2007 session was for Fiscal Year 2008). Furthermore, the Legislature voted to appropriate full funding for the MAEP in the next two legislative sessions as well – in 2008 and in 2009. But, in each of the fiscal years for which those funds were appropriated, revenue came in below the projections on which the appropriation was based, and Governor Barbour made the decision to cut school budgets mid year. The full funding that was appropriated did not make it into school budgets in either of those two years (FY2009 and FY2010).
By the 2010 Legislative Session, the recession was on full-bore, state revenue was down significantly, and full funding was off the table.
Leading up to the 2011 statewide election, candidates were hopeful that the Mississippi economy was regaining strength, and most candidates for the legislature ran on a promise to return to full funding of the MAEP as soon as was fiscally possible.
Revenue has exceeded the level that it was in 2008, the last time that full funding of the MAEP actually made it to our schools.