Robin Boswell of Ocean Springs, a lawyer turned stay-at-home mom, spoke in support of Initiative 42. She helped launch the group “Fed up with 50th” and has been a key supporter of Initiative 42, believing that without it the legislature will continue to underfund public schools.
“Our public schools have been underfunded chronically,” said Boswell. “Out of the last 18 years, only two years have our public schools been adequately funded.”
Proponents of Initiative 42 say the constitutional amendment would force state leaders to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, known as MAEP.
“It's not unheard of at all to amend the constitution,” said Boswell. “The constitution is amended pretty often. We gave everyone the right to hunt and fish pretty recently, and this is just amending the education clause in the constitution.”
However, those against it, like House of Representatives speaker pro-temp Greg Snowden, say a constitutional amendment is a big deal and voters should be aware of that.
“This is not a referendum,” said Rep. Snowden. “This is not a public opinion poll. Voters are being asked to change the language of the constitution. The words matter.”
Snowden helped bring forward Initiative 42-A, which is the measure on the ballot that is an alternative to Initiative 42.
“The radical change that 42 would bring about would be to remove legislature from section 201 of the constitution and to insert the word state,” said Rep. Snowden.
According to Rep. Snowden, the power to fully fund schools should be left in the hands of the state legislature. Meanwhile, Boswell feels the state has had their chance and have failed.
Initiative 42 and 42-A will appear on the ballot during the general election on Nov. 3. Those for and against the initiative encourage voters to carefully read the ballot before casting their votes next week.