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Editor’s Note: Mississippi outsmarts Michigan

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Democrats in Mississippi recently tried to boost school funding in that state through a ballot initiative. They thought they’d be better off angling for more money for schools in the courts than through the legislative process.

Despite the financial investment from the left, including teachers unions, the measure failed. Good for Mississippi voters.

The proposal aimed to force the state to fund education at a higher rate; if the state didn’t meet certain metrics, then it would have faced lawsuits decided by a judge who could overrule legislative funding choices.

“This push was an elaborate scheme, dressed up as ‘fairness,’ to transfer control of education funding from the legislature to the courts,” observes Salena Zito, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Similar efforts to mandate higher school funding have taken place around the country, including Michigan. Often this is done through “adequacy studies” that almost always conclude more money is the answer to education shortfalls. And the studies consequently pave the way for lawsuits.

Oddly, Michigan’s GOP-controlled Legislature signed off on such a study in last year’s lame-duck negotiations over a road funding proposal. The study is in progress, and should be done by spring.

Lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder should never have agreed to the study, as it will surely take school funding discussions to court. And that’s exactly what Michigan Democrats and unions wanted.