By Sen. David Blount
Jackson Advocate Guest Writer
As I write this, the 2023 legislative session is entering its final days. It has been a difficult and contentious session. However, one bright spot has been a bipartisan effort in the Senate to increase support for our public schools and the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP).
I serve as Vice Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. It has been many years since a Democrat has served in this position. In recent years, we have worked with Republican leaders to pass the largest teacher pay raise in history and, this year, a revised MAEP that would be fully funded.
This month we passed legislation to fully fund the MAEP, meaning a $181 million increase in funding for school districts statewide. We are also fully funding last year’s teacher pay raise. It is important to note that salaries for school employees who are not teachers and set by the local district and fully funding MAEP can be used to provide raises to these important professionals. MAEP is the bedrock of our local school district budgets.
• Hinds County Public Schools would receive $4.1 million more funding under this new MAEP formula.
• Jackson Public Schools would receive $14.7 million more funding under this new MAEP formula.
The revised MAEP makes minor technical adjustments to the school funding formula to make full funding more sustainable for the long term. Importantly, it would leave intact the MAEP formula for figuring the base student cost, the primary determinant of school funding. It also would adjust the inflation component that was enacted during the Barbour administration.
The general bill and the appropriations bill now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.
I am happy to announce pavement rehabilitation projects are coming to I-20/I-55 in South Jackson. This spring, MDOT will put out for bid a much-needed project that will pave I-20 between the stack and State Highway 18 and make improvements to I-55 between Elton Road and the stack. This continues the previous improvements to I-55 South (new six lanes south of McDowell Road). Commissioner Willie Simmons and I are dedicated to making sure Hinds County receives our fair share of highway funding.
As always, I am happy to meet with groups, neighborhoods, or churches in Senate District 29 to listen and discuss issues that are important to you. You can reach me using the contact information below. I am running for re-election this year and would be grateful for your support. My seniority, chairmanship, and leadership on important committees give me an opportunity to do more for our district.
Thank you again for the opportunity to work for Hinds County in the State Senate. You can contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling my office at the Capitol (601-359-2220). I am also on Facebook and Twitter (@sendavidblount).