Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is asking a Hinds County chancery judge to reconsider his decision to rebuke efforts to force the state to fully fund local school districts.
Musgrove entered a motion recently asking Hinds County Chancellor William Singletary to reverse his decision rejecting the former governor’s argument that state law mandates the Legislature fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.
MAEP is the mechanism that provides the state’s share of most of the basics to operate local school districts. The Legislature, former Gov. Haley Barbour and current Gov. Phil Bryant have underfunded the program $1.7 billion since 2008. It was underfunded $200 million for the upcoming school year.
Musgrove’s lawsuit maintains a 2006 law signed by Barbour says the state “shall” fully fund MAEP. But in a July ruling, Singletary found the 2006 law had to be coupled with another 2006 law that included language explaining how money would be appropriated to the school districts if MAEP was not fully funded.
“This alternative procedure demonstrates the Legislature’s realization that full funding may not occur every year,” Singletary wrote.
But in his motion asking for reconsideration, Musgrove wrote that the alternative language was clearly meant to be applied for a three-year phase-in period of full funding.
“This language makes it clear the Legislature gave itself a three-year grace period to implement the full funding of the formula,” the Musgrove motion said. “After the three-year grace period, the Legislature obligated itself without exception or excuse to fund education fully.”