Legislative Update (7/2/20)
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Posted by: Kelly Riley
Legislators headed home after finishing their work late last night on general bills and the FY 21 budget. The Lt. Governor and Speaker may call legislators back to Jackson as needed between now and October to address COVID-19 matters. Click here for our bill tracking spreadsheet which reflects action as of last night. Here is a quick recap of recent developments:
FY 21 Budget: While most state agency FY 21 budgets were cut by approximately 5%, K-12 education was only reduced by approximately 2.7%, including a 1.65% cut to the MAEP. We appreciate legislative leaders’ efforts to minimize the cuts to education. While the conference report for HB 1700, the K-12 appropriation bill, was initially adopted by both the House and Senate on Monday, it was recommitted for additional work. The only change to the final conference report, which was adopted by both chambers on Tuesday, was an additional $4.7 million for MDE operations. As passed the House and Senate, HB 1700:
- Provides level funding ($12 million) for classroom supplies, as well as literacy coaches and the Educable Child Program.
- Eliminates funding for the School Recognition Program, with these funds diverted to the MAEP.
- Reduces funding for the Mississippi Schools for the Deaf and the Blind
- Reduces FY 21 MAEP funding by $37 million as compared to FY 20 funding. Funding is $250 million below full funding of the MAEP Formula.
- Provides an additional $1.1 million in support for our state’s Early Learning Collaboratives and increases the collaboratives’ per-pupil funding rate from $2,150 to $2,500.
- Reduces funding for Mississippi’s World Class Teaching Programs which provide mentoring and support for National Board candidates by $50,000, but increases funding for the National Board Program by $50,000.
HB 1700 now heads to Governor Reeves for his consideration. MPE will share an overview of the FY 21 budgets for our state’s community colleges and universities in the near future.
Distance Learning: The Legislature approved two bills specific to K-12 distance learning and one bill specific to increasing broadband access in unserved areas throughout our state:
- SB 3044, the Equity in Distance Learning Act, utilizes $150 million appropriated in HB 1792 to create a grant program for the purchase of computers for students, as well as other distance learning expenses. The majority of these funds will be distributed according to Average Daily Membership and $20 million will be distributed based upon needs assessment responses. MDE will administer the grant program.
- HB 1788 provides $50 million (appropriated to MDE via HB 1797) for grants to public school districts, independent schools and Native American tribal schools to obtain Internet connectivity for students and teachers who live in areas without Internet service.
- SB 3046 authorizes $75 million to rural areas with no broadband service with a committed match by providers of $75 million, for a total of $150 million for rural broadband access.
Expansion of Gifted Education and Early Learning Collaboratives: Although the following bills are technically still alive on the legislative calendar because legislators headed home before all legislative deadlines had passed, conference reports were not filed for either of them. We anticipate they will die on the calendar in the coming days:
- HB 666 requires districts to provide Gifted Education for students in Grades 7 and 8.
- SB 2286 expands our state’s Early Learning Collaboratives. As I shared above, an additional $1.1 million in funding has been provided for collaboratives via HB 1700.
HB 1700 and Notices of Nonrenewal: In accordance with state law, school districts must give notice of nonrenewal on or before April 15 OR within 10 calendar days of the governor approving the appropriation bill, whichever date is later. We will notify our members as soon as Governor Reeves signs HB 1700.
As this was the first year of a new four-year legislative term, we worked with several new committee chairs and vice-chairs. MPE appreciates the commitment and leadership of Senator Dennis DeBar and Senator David Blount, Chair and Vice-Chair of Senate Education, as well as that of Rep. Richard Bennett and Rep. Kent McCarty, Chair and Vice-Chair of House Education. This was certainly an extraordinary session. We are extremely grateful to Leah Smith in Lt. Governor Hosemann’s office for her regular communications with us on legislation and other matters. We will continue to work with legislative leaders to on a teacher pay raise, as it is critical to addressing teacher recruitment and retention.