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INSPIRE Act to provide $250 million more in education funding

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

Rep. Rob Roberson addresses the media during a press conference held Thursday about the passage of the INSPIRE Act, a piece of legislation that aims to replace the current MAEP education funding model to provide more education funding in Mississippi.
(Photo by Jeremy Pittari | Magnolia Tribune)

  • Updated estimates from the House show the chamber’s proposed new K-12 funding formula could provide significant increases to schools.

Mississippi’s House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill Thursday that would provide a significant increase in K-12 education funding through the INSPIRE Act if the legislation can make it out of the Senate.

House Bill 1823, which came out of the House Appropriations Committee, will provide roughly $250 million more in school funding through HB 1453, also known as the Investing in the Needs of Students to Prioritize, Impact and Reform Education, or INSPIRE Act.

State Rep. Rob Roberson

State Rep. Rob Roberson (R), author of the INSPIRE Act and chairman of the House Education Committee, said if the bill becomes law, it will provide more education funding than if the Legislature decided to “fully fund” the current Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP).

The INSPIRE Act, if passed and signed into law, would replace MAEP. 

However, the legislation now moves to the Senate where lawmakers in that chamber have their own education funding bill, Senate Bill 2332, which would tweak the existing MAEP formula. State Senator Dennis DeBar (R), Senate Education Committee Chairman, has said his plan in SB 2332 is anticipated to also provide additional funding to education by more than $200 million.

The House’s INSPIRE Act uses a funding system that starts with a base student cost and then adds percentages based on a weighted system. Roberson’s plan focuses on the specific needs of students, such special needs, career and technical courses, and gifted students to name a few. 

Rep. Roberson provided Magnolia Tribune with updated estimates on Friday which show that under the INSPIRE Act education funding would increase by about $250 million over last year’s total education spending, providing about $3 billion for K-12 schools.

According to numbers Roberson obtained from the Legislative Budget Office (LBO), fully funding MAEP for fiscal year 2025 would provide $2.99 billion. 

“Ladies and gentlemen this is the largest amount of money we’ve ever given to K-12. So, this is something we should be mighty proud of,” Roberson told the House while in floor debate on Thursday.

The estimates for what INSPIRE will provide to Mississippi’s education system were slightly higher than those presented during discussion of the INSPIRE Act last week on the House floor. Last week, the increased funding was estimated around $200 million. 

State Rep. Robert Johnson (D) raised concerns in the previous floor debate on the bill, saying the LBO told him that the office did not provide the numbers Rep. Roberson reported during discussions last week. However, Rep. Roberson rebutted Johnson with a statement that LBO ran the numbers, but did not “create” them. Roberson apologized for any miscommunication that may have occurred.

“Everybody seems to think we’re not plugging in the correct numbers. The truth of the matter is it’s a moving target. We’re getting updated figures all the time. So, a lot of the information we get we update as we go. And this ended up being the updated information that we had,” Roberson told Magnolia Tribune. “We’re just making sure the numbers are as updated as we can.” 

“I’m just excited about the possibility of getting a lot of money for our K-12. It’s the biggest number we’ve ever done,” Roberson added.

State Rep. Jansen Owen (R) said the numbers changed from last week in part because LBO got updated numbers from the Mississippi Department of Education for the current 2023-2024 school year and ran them through the INSPIRE Act model. 

“It’s a much larger investment than we even thought,” Owen said.

For more detailed information on how the formula will increase funding for each school district, House Speaker Jason White shared a link on X, formerly Twitter, with graphics depicting the amount each district would receive under the current MAEP formulas versus INSPIRE. That breakdown per district can be found here.

The Senate’s plan, SB 2332, also passed out of the chamber last week and is set to go to the House for consideration.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Read original article by clicking here.

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