Cut to the Chase: The Initiative 42 Bottom Line

Think about this for a moment:

If I had signed a contract with you 18 years ago for your services or products for $100.00 per year, you would expect to be paid $100.00 per year for that contract. Now suppose I had only paid you $100.00 a year twice in the past 18 years. For 14 of the remaining 16 years, I decided all I was going to pay you was $40.00 each year although the contract called for $100.00 each year. As you became more and more agitated that the contract was not being honored, I finally paid you $50.00 and $60.00 respectively for the past two years. On top of that, I boasted to everyone who would listen that in the last two years I had put more money into your business than in any time in history. Never mind, I short-changed you hundreds of dollars in 16 of the past 18 years that impacted your ability to attract quality employees, service your equipment, and repair your facilities. How well would that sit with you? If you had been consistently short-changed the money you were promised, what would you do? Wouldn’t you seek relief from the courts? Isn’t it a function of the courts to resolve such contractual malpractice?

The representation above illustrates exactly the bottom line for Initiative 42! In 1997, the Mississippi Legislature made a law (a promise) to fund Mississippi public school education based on the MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program) formula, but they only honored the law twice over the next 18 years. I dare say, there are few people in this state or any other state who would have exercised the patience Mississippi educators exercised during those 18 years. In the business world and as private citizens, if someone refused to honor their monetary commitment to us, we would have sought relief through the courts long ago. However, educators did not because they kept hoping and praying the state Legislature would do the right thing and honor their commitment. Of course, they never did! So, since they repeatedly failed to honor their commitment to fund education, what recourse did legislators leave citizens and educators other than to go through the initiative process and seek relief through the courts? The legislators and their supporters can cry the citizens and educators are trying to circumvent the power of the Legislature by taking the funding issue to court all they want, but the truth is the initiative process is simply taking the next logical step to resolve a problem the Legislature created.

Initiative 42 is the result of the Mississippi Legislature’s failure to do its job! If legislators had honored their commitment (the law), there would not be a need for Initiative 42. But, year after year they have refused to honor the law! Governor Bryant can claim all he wants that historic amounts of money have been placed in education the past two years, but he cannot deny state legislators have failed to honor the law and fully fund MAEP during the same two years as well as in all but two of the preceding 16 years. They simply have not! As a result, nearly 200,000 Mississippi citizens signed a petition to get Initiative 42 on the ballot in a grassroots effort to get state legislators to honor their commitment to education. Even so, citizens and educators are hoping, even when Initiative 42 passes, that the legislators will do the right thing and honor the funding law rather than go to court. With Initiative 42, legislators will have the option of doing the right thing by following the law and fully funding the MAEP formula, or they can opt to ignore the law as they have done year after year and choose to send the funding issue to court. Under Initiative 42, whether a chancery court judge hears the issue or not is completely up to the state legislators.

Remember this, if you had a contract with someone to pay you for services, supplies or maintenance you provided, you would expect to be paid for those services. If that someone consistently refused to pay, eventually you would have no other recourse but to seek relief in the courts to get your money. Why shouldn’t school kids and teachers be entitled to the same relief? Also, you should think about this. What would happen if you refused to pay your state income taxes or ignored the income tax law completely? You can bet money your state government would not hesitate to fine you and drag you into court. So, if citizens must honor the law or face being taken to court, why shouldn’t their elected officials be expected to honor the law or face going to court as well? It is time we stopped hiding our heads in the sand while the Legislature picks and chooses the laws they want to honor. It’s time to pass Initiative 42, and make the Mississippi Legislature accountable to honoring the laws they pass.

JL

©Jack Linton, October 25, 2015

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4 thoughts on “Cut to the Chase: The Initiative 42 Bottom Line

  1. Anonymous

    If the politicans had done what they were suppose to do, there would be no need for Initiative 42. Remember, before you vote, to call your children’s and grandchildren’s teachers and tell them your voted against Iniative 42 and leave a large donation to help make up the difference they should already be getting. I wonder how many of you volunteer in classrooms and see for yourself what is going on.

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      Not enough people volunteer or even visit their local schools enough to truly know what teachers and children are up against. Too many people are basing their opposition to Initiative 42 on hearsay and the scare tactics the Republican party is peddling to them.

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  2. Grama'sHeart

    I know this will not reach any ears or cause anyone to seriously consider the choice they make, but I will try one last time to state my reasoning for OPPOSING Initiative 42. In ONE WORD: FUNDING

    I begin by quoting from your explanation above, “So, since they repeatedly failed to honor their commitment to “(fund education)”, what recourse did legislators leave citizens and educators other than to go through the initiative process and seek relief through the courts? The legislators and their supporters can cry the citizens and educators are trying to circumvent the power of the Legislature by taking the funding issue to court all they want, but the truth is the initiative process is “(simply taking the next logical step)” to resolve a problem the Legislature created.”

    I AM A RETIRED TEACHER, of 20 years, in the MS school system. I have ALWAYS had and still have the children of this state at heart, but I also have become older and ill and know many, many others in this state in the same or worse situations AND dependent on state funded programs!

    I have posed questions to different people about Initiative 42, but no one sees any reason to answer them; or they “poo poo” and ignore them because my suggestions, as to the possible outcome of this AMENDMENT, AS IT IS WRITTEN, are AT LEAST POSSIBLE IF NOT PROBABLE! But the questions have not been acknowledged, I believe, out of pure emotion – yes, emotions. Emotions, which force someone to want something so badly, they are willing to do anything, without considering everything involved or the ultimate cost! I know all about broken promises! I was part of one of the first groups of teachers who went out on strike during the first and only time in this state’s history, but we did not demand support for an Amendment that was VAGUE, OPEN TO INTERPRETATION or claim our pay raise would not cause a tax increase or affect funding of the needed state funded programs! THIS HAS BEEN AN ONGOING PROMISE to the citizens of this state: No tax increase or cuts in funding to state programs. “(fund education)” – THAT PHRASE IS NOT EVEN MENTIONED in Initiative 42!

    Funding, which is not in Initiative 42 – HOW, may I ask, DOES THAT WORK? From WHERE does the money come? In this “resource poor” state, there is only ONE SOURCE: INCREASED TAXES or CUTS in state funded programs. NO? WHERE then? No one has even tried to answer my questions! I am not without knowledge about the problems with funding. ?”(fund education)”? I REPEAT, (Funding – WHICH IS NOT MENTIONED EVEN ONE TIME IN Initiative 42) , will have to be taken from programs or achieved through a tax increase!

    “(simply taking the next logical step)” Initiative 42 only covers “effective and adequate education”. Neither, of those three words, are explained using the word “funding” anywhere in the definition. WHY? If Initiative 42 is to make sure that the schools are funded according to MAEP? The only “next logical step” given to a judge pertains to “effective and adequate education”. THERE NOTHING ABOUT FUNDING IN INITIATIVE 42!!!! You cannot READ something INTO a law that IS NOT THERE!!! But, a judge CAN INTERPRET A PHRASE,
    “efficient and adequate education”, in their view of what an “efficient and adequate education” is, for the students of this state. That is the ONLY right this Initiative gives a judge.

    I am concerned because the enacting of Initiative 42, if not acted on by the Legislature, will be enforced by a HUMAN BEING who has his/her OWN VIEW to what “adequate and efficient” education is. You do not think so? Each person had different views on any subject you can mention, so HOW CAN YOU possibly say WHAT WILL HAPPEN? YOU CANNOT SAY OR PROMISE WHAT you do NOT KNOW!! Can you promise me this WILL NOT happen? If you cannot I, for one WILL NOT vote for Initiative 42 in the BROAD and AMBIGUOUS way IT IS WRITTEN!!!!

    We teach children FACTS, we tell teach them to use these facts to make EDUCATED CHOICES in life situations. We DO NOT encourage SUPPOSITIONS or GUESSWORK based on PERSONAL VIEWS or FEELINGS (EMOTIONS) (Unless, it is Science, and in that case they must prove or disprove their hypothesis.) We frown upon and punish COPYING or CHEATING of any form. It is wrong and DOES NOT ENCOURAGE any kind of LEARNING for students! THINK for YOURSELF, we tell them. YET, I am an ADULT who has been CRITICIZED and called a “children hater” because I try to do what I have been taught, in school, from an early age.

    Most of the people of this state are dreadfully poor or live on retirement (below the national average). I live on retirement, Social Security, have Medicaid for health coverage and a pathetically poor drug prescription program (for multiple expensive health problems) that is expensive, yet I pay 100% in the doughnut hole. There are many, many state funded programs that assist the people of this state.

    Now, I have learned of a bill that passed the House, and it is now in the Senate. It will raise Medicare cost 15% and reallocate Social Security funds!! WONDERFUL!

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      If you will read the blog that I will post Saturday, October 31, at http://www.dontmeantooffendbut.wordpress.com you will find the blog is dedicated to you (a retired teachers) and your questions. I am posting my response to you as a blog for two reasons: (1) the length of the response, and (2) you are not alone in your concerns and questions. I hope the blog addresses your concerns. Thank you for writing.

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