School funding and ballot initiative among the issues still in limbo as session winds down

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:30 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Lawmakers are down to their final days at the State Capitol for the 2023 session, and two of those issues you’ll want to hear about are still in limbo.

The state constitution gives you a voice when you think elected leaders have neglected issues you find important. However, lawmakers are taking it down to the wire again with finding a way to restore that right to you.

“It did get to this point last year, and it stalled out during conference,” noted Sen. Tyler McCaughn.

But the resolution in its current form has some members questioning whether it would be a step in the right direction.

“I don’t believe that it actually helps the people have a voice in the state of Mississippi,” said Rep. Daryl Porter. “It’s a horrible, horrible plan, in order to, in order to fix something that was really simple by changing those congressional districts from four from five to four.”

Senators initially proposed more than doubling the number of signatures needed to get an issue on the ballot. But two weeks ago, the House lowered it to the number previously required, around 106,000. Still, they’d restrict the topics, including no referendums related to abortion. Voters would also only be allowed to change state law, not the constitution, as they previously could.

“Conference is where a lot of the quirks get worked out the differences between the two sides,” said McCaughn. “And maybe even some of the input from the Governor’s office because everybody has to remember, the governor mentioned he has to sign whatever legislation we put forward.”

Another issue heading to one of those conference committees is school funding. Education advocates are putting on the pressure with calls to the switchboards.

“We have an opportunity here to make sure that every single Mississippi child has a shot at a great life at a really strong, high-quality education and a great life,” described Nancy Loome, The Parents’ Campaign Executive Director. “Everybody’s paying attention. They know there’s an extra billion dollars there, and they want their schools fully funded.”

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