Plaintiffs sought for school funding lawsuit in Mississippi

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A group of lawyers including former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is traveling around Mississippi trying to get school districts to sign up for lawsuits against the state seeking payment of the $1.5 billion that the state had underfunded its K-12 school formula since fiscal 2010.

Backers of a separate effort to write a full-funding requirement into the state Constitution are pushing against the proposed suits, saying they could blow a hole in the state's budget, anger lawmakers and give lawyers too much of the money if they won. They argue a constitutional guarantee of future adequate funding is better.

A spokesman for Musgrove declined comment. As lieutenant governor in 1997, Democrat Musgrove helped steer the Mississippi Adequate Education Program into law over the veto of Republican Gov. Kirk Fordice. It appears only a handful of districts have signed up so far for lawsuits, although presentations have been made to many school boards. There's no class-action status, so individual districts must sue.

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