On Monday, during the first of two days of hearings on agency budget requests, Reeves asked Superintendent of Education Carey Wright to choose between fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and funding other education programs, such as reading coaches to aid literacy efforts in the early grades and pre-kindergarten programs.
MAEP is the program that provides the bulk of funding for the basics of operating local school districts and has been underfunded $1.7 billion since 2008, leading Mississippians to garner the signatures to place Initiative 42 on the November general election ballot. Reeves contended to Wright that if Initiative 42 passes then other programs, such as the reading coaches and funds for early childhood education, would have to be cut to fully fund MAEP.
During Monday’s hearings, he asked her to choose whether to fully fund MAEP or cut those programs.
“I wouldn’t presume to make those decisions,” she said. But Wright did concede that the reading coaches and early childhood education programs were important in the effort to improve the educational attainment of Mississippi students.
Reeves said the Legislature has focused “on dollars to the classrooms.”
After the hearing, Wright would not say how she plans to vote on Initiative 42.