Lawsuit claims governor does not have authority to cut education - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Lawsuit claims governor does not have authority to cut education funding

(Photo source: WLOX) (Photo source: WLOX)
HINDS COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Two state lawmakers filed a lawsuit claiming Gov. Phil Bryant's orders to cut $20 million in funding for public education are unconstitutional. That lawsuit was filed this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to the suit, Bryant ordered cuts to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program earlier this year without any input from the state legislature. The lawmakers backing the lawsuit say that's against the state constitution, because only the legislature can cut the state budget.

“The Mississippi Constitution forbids any branch of government from exercising another branch’s core powers,” said Will Bardwell, SPLC senior staff attorney. “Decisions about the state budget must be made by the legislature alone. When Governor Bryant interfered with the legislature’s MAEP appropriation, he not only shortchanged Mississippi schoolchildren, he violated the Constitution.”

The lawsuit is asking a Hinds County Chancery Court to strike down the statute under which Bryant made the cuts, to fund schools at the level budgeted by the legislature, and to pay back the money that was cut from MAEP.

“These budget cuts have had devastating effects for countless Mississippians, but none more than public schoolchildren,” said Rep. Bryant Clark said. “Someone needs to stand up for our children.” 

“If schools don’t have enough money, they cannot provide an adequate education,” Rep. John Horhn said. “It’s hard to imagine why the governor thinks schools need less money than the legislature budgeted.”

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