Wicker, Cochran unsure on ed funds

JACKSON – Mississippi’s two United States senators say they are not sure how they will vote on a proposal that would provide an estimated $180 million for local school districts.
The U.S. Senate could vote as early today on a proposal that would provide $10 billion to help financially strapped states avoid teacher layoffs and provide extra Medicaid money.
Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, both Republicans, said they will wait to see how successful the Democrats are in finding areas to cut before deciding whether to support the proposal.
In Mississippi, the additional $180 million in Medicaid funds would allow state general fund dollars to go toward education.
Local school districts across the state are eliminating teacher positions because of the state budget shortfall.
Nancy Loome, executive director of the Parents Campaign, a statewide grassroots education support group, said passage of the federal legislation is important because “in a matter of days, our children will return to school. In most cases, they will be starting the year with larger classes and fewer resources and support programs. We are in danger of losing important ground that we have gained in student achievement over the past few years.”
The Democratic leadership of the U.S. Senate is working to make cuts in other programs to ensure the proposal does not add to the federal deficit.
In a prepared statement, Cochran said, “I’ll look at whatever new version comes before the Senate later this week, but I am troubled with a process that calls for votes on legislation fabricated without committee process, without opportunity for amendment and without even being scored. This process is not conducive to the enactment of important legislation.”
Wicker spokeswoman Tara DiJulio said he “is concerned that the Democratic leadership is trying to pay for the temporary spending in this bill through a permanent tax increase. The senator is waiting … to review the details on how Congress will pay for the legislation.”

Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.

Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal