Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said Thursday that “the public is smarter than most people might believe” and it’s wrong for people to suggest Mississippi voters might be confused by having two education funding proposals on November’s ballot.

“I think one of the things that is condescending is the idea that the voting public cannot select between two different choices,” Bryant said. “I think they often make selections between any number of choices for people who are running for public office. So, I think the general public is going to be able to look at both of them and decide which one they like the most.”

More than 116,000 people signed petitions to put Initiative 42 on the ballot. The proposed constitutional amendment would require Mississippi to fund an “adequate and efficient system of free public schools.” If legislators fail to provide that, people could ask a chancery judge to order the state to provide the money.

Bryant said that as a private citizen, he will vote for the legislative alternative, a proposed amendment that would require funding of an “effective system of free public schools.” He said he doesn’t want a judge involved in state budget decisions.

“I’ve always had an issue with the separation-of-powers clause because I think the Founding Fathers put it both in the federal and state constitutions for a purpose,” Bryant said.

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