School funding initiatives still causing confusion for some voters

School funding initiatives still causing confusion for some voters

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Groups both for and against education funding initiatives on the November ballot are trying to clear up confusion before voters head to the polls.

Initiative 42 and Initiative 42-A have been hot topics for months, but with only three weeks until the general election, the Hattiesburg Council of Neighborhoods invited both Kids First Mississippi, which opposes both ballot initiatives, and 42 For Better Schools, which only supports Initiative 42, to a political forum Tuesday.

While the groups don't agree on what the outcome of the vote should be, they agree on the importance of the initiative.

"This is a very important issue for the state of Mississippi," said Dennis Baum with 42 For Better Schools. "Recently, in the last several months, over 200,000 of our fellow citizens have come to the forefront in order to get this initiative onto the ballot."

Russ Latino with Kids First Mississippi said, "We think that 42 is the most important issue that's on the ballot this year because it will amend our constitution, and it will live forever. We are very much so in favor of public education and in favor of our kids. I've got kids that live in Mississippi that will be products of public education. The concern that we've got is that the amendment is confusing and doesn't do what people are saying it does."

Latino said his group's main concern is that 42 will remove the legislature from decision making and give decision making power to a court.

"We think giving this much power to a court versus our elected representatives is a dangerous way to blur the lines of separation of power and representative government."

Latino also said he thinks local school districts and teachers should have the authority to make decisions, rather than a "top down, one-size-fits-all kinds of policies."

However, Baum doesn't think these concerns outweigh the potential benefits of passing Initiative 42.

"The sky is not falling," Baum said. "Your taxes aren't going to go up.Things as we know it will not come to an end in this modern era that we live in. We're trying to get some money for education."

Baum said when it's boiled down, Initiative 42 is just about getting more money to improve Mississippi public education.

"The results are that the legislature approves the money that's needed to adequately fund education in this state," he said. "To vote against it or not to vote for the initiative, is a vote against education and for the money that's necessary to make things happen in this state."