Education Department gets a larger cut

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The Mississippi Department of Education will be cut more than most other agencies in the latest round of state budget cuts ordered by Gov. Phil Bryant.

Bryant said the decision came down to a simple choice.

“It was so we didn’t have to cut MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program),” Bryant said, referring to the state’s statutory formula dictating how much money is required for each school district to deliver an adequate education every year.

“It was either administration or the classroom,’ the governor said. “I choose the administration.”

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright

Rogelio V. Solis, AP

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright

The education department will lose about $4.9 million, or around 3 percent, said State Superintendent Carey Wright on Thursday.

Wright said her staff will look at its budget line by line to decide where to make the cuts. However, she said, she will give priority to the agency’s reform efforts around literacy and early childhood education.

The department must report back to the Governor’s office and the Department of Finance and Administration by the end of the month.

Bryant cut the budget earlier this month to compensate for a nearly $57 million accounting error after legislative staff overestimated the state’s expected revenue as the Legislature prepared the fiscal year 2017 budget.

The $56.8 million cut amounts to just under 1 percent of the total general fund budget of $5.8 billion. In addition to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, Bryant also spared spending cuts for the Institutes of Higher Learning Financial Aid, the Military department and the Veterans Affairs Board.