By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Senate leadership is proposing a $40 million increase in the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which provides the state’s share of the basics to operate local school districts.
The Legislature is in the process of passing the first round of more than 100 budget bills as it works to fund state agencies, universities and colleges and local school districts by the scheduled end of the session on April 24.
Under the Senate plan, introduced by Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, Adequate Education would receive $2.28 billion, leaving it roughly $130 million short of full funding. The House plan, which was passed last week, leaves MAEP about $170 million short of full funding.
The full Senate will begin the process of approving its budget plan today. Besides increasing funding for MAEP by $40 million, the plan Clarke will present to the full Senate today also increases funding for the universities by about $13 million and for the community colleges by a little less than $5 million.
The total general fund in the Senate is $6.22 billion, compared to $6.19 million for the current year.
The plan factors savings into the budget by Clarke’s proposal to combine the departments of Human Services and Rehabilitation Services and Division of Medicaid into one agency, the Department of Environmental Quality and Soil & Water into a single agency; and Agriculture, Forestry, Animal Health and County Livestock into a single agency.