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Mississippi Supreme Court rules against plaintiffs in school funding case

The Mississippi Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit Thursday brought by former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and 21 school districts that sought more than $235 million in additional state funding.

The 2014 lawsuit said that the Legislature was mandated by law to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding formula, which has only be fully funded twice since its passage in 1997.

The court disagreed, ruling that the MAEP was not a binding mandate on the Legislature and that the judiciary didn't have the constitutional authority to appropriate money. The MAEP calculation is often several hundred million more than what the Legislature appropriates for K-12 education.

Since fiscal 2012, K-12 spending has increased every year until this one, going from $2.02 billion in 2012 to $2.24 billion in fiscal 2017. In the latest budget, Republican lawmakers sliced $41 million from the K-12 budget as part of $235 million in overall cuts.

"Mississippi’s Constitution is clear — it is the Legislature’s sole authority to allocate tax dollars and I appreciate the decision of the justices to dismiss the lawsuit by a former Democrat elected official," said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in a statement. "I’m proud Mississippi’s Republican leaders have prioritized education at all levels and spent about $400 million more than it did just six years ago and we will continue to find more ways to invest in the classroom to provide opportunities for our kids."

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