By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON - Kindergarten through 12th grade education is essentially leveled funded in the budget proposal unveiled Wednesday by Gov. Phil Bryant at a state Capitol news conference.

The Republican governor said his proposal provides level funding for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which provides the state's share of the basics of operating local school districts, at $2.03 billion and provides an additional $21 million for "education priorities," such as continuing a pilot pre-kindergarten program, known as Building Blocks, that has been funded in recent years by private funds and enacting a pilot merit teacher pay program.

Overall, Bryant increases state funding by 4.7 percent or $259.8 million to $5.81 billion. That amount includes some deficit funding for the current year for Medicaid and Corrections and some one-time expenditures on such items as finishing the state's Wireless Integrated Network, that among other things ensures emergency responders can continue to communicate during natural disasters, such as hurricanes.

By law, Bryant is supposed to submit a budget recommendation to the Legislature in advance of the upcoming session. Legislative leaders will unveil their own plan next month.

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