Special to the Advocate
The 2008 session of the Mississippi Legislature opened Jan. 8 in
Congregations for Children has established several priorities for the Legislature. Congregations for Children is an ecumenical organization advocating to improve the plight of children in
CFC has scheduled a news conference featuring the bishops of all three groups for noon on Jan. 24 in the first floor rotunda of the state Capitol. All are invited to attend.
Here are the legislative priorities as listed in the CFC’s most recent newsletter:
• Full funding of education. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program was fully funded in 2007 for the first time since its inception. However, MAEP must be fully funded each year to provide schools with a stable funding source that is necessary for long-term planning. The estimated funding is $11.1million.
• Additional funding for at-risk students.
• Pilot pre-kindergarten program. The Early Learning Collaborative Act passed in ‘07 authorizing a voluntary Early Care and Education Grant Program. Also, legislation passed in the 2006 session to expand the Mississippi Child Care Quality Step System and provided for a Statewide Child Care Resource and Referral System. However, the programs were not funded. An estimated $20 million is needed to fund them.
The Mississippi Low-Income Child Initiative will again push for legislation that will appropriate some state funds for child care assistance using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds and suggests that it be done through the Department of Human Services.
Second, push for legislation to provide grants to child-care providers who implement the quality rating improvements. The current legislation is unfunded.
This will be an avenue to get money into the child-care centers that are participating in the Quality Rating System Assessment program.
State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)/Medicaid Program
During this legislative session, advocates will push for legislation to remove the face-to-face requirement to one that has fewer restrictions and is more accessible to the people.
Grocery-Cigarette Tax Bill
Gov. Haley Barbour vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature that would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes to $1 and reduce the sales tax on groceries by half from its current rate of 7 percent. The change would have been phased in over a period of two years.
Juvenile Justice Legislation
CFC will support the Mississippi Youth Justice Project legislation which includes legislation to reform
CFC calls for funding the Department of Human Services Foster Care services to bring supervisors and staff up to professional standards.