In Mississippi, lawmakers already are gearing up to tackle education, tax relief and the state’s contracting system, among other issues.
Here is a quick look at the three biggest issues the legislature will tackle in 2015:
With a ballot initiative and a lawsuit on deck over K-12 education funding, the legislature will have to address what likely will be the biggest fight going into the 2015 elections in November.
Advocates of increased education spending want the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula fully funded. That would mean spending $260 million more on education than Gov. Phil Bryant proposed ($2.187 billion) in his budget request for K-12. Full funding for education would mean cuts elsewhere.
The legislature could increase the K-12 budget by less than the adequate education program requires or tweak the the formula used to produce the number to correct issues spotlighted in a recent report filed by State Auditor Stacey Pickering‘s office that showed a few issues in the MAEP formula—such as the Community Eligibility Provision for the federal school lunch program and the method by which districts calculate attendance — could result in the MAEP number increasing each year at an even greater rate.
The tax relief front is quite murky. The governor has proposed to give low- to moderate-income working families a refundable tax credit—but only in years when the state’s rainy day fund is full, such as this year. In a downturn, the credit would go away.
Another proposal would cut or phase out the state’s onerous corporate franchise tax. The Magnolia State is one of only 13 states with this tax, and getting rid of it would improve the state’s ability to compete with other states for business relocation.
Mississippi Democrats are already calling on the ending of the practice of no-bid contracts in the state after the indictment of former corrections commissioner Chris Epps and former state legislator Cecil McCrory.