The Education Enhancement Act, passed by the Mississippi legislature during the 1992 regular session, augmented funding for public education through a 1 percent sales tax increase and an earmark on collected sales tax revenue. It was the first act in the state’s history to earmark a tax increase specifically for public education.
The Education Enhancement Act sought to provide funding for facilities, equipment, utilities, land, textbooks, technology, instructional materials, and supplies. Whereas previous landmark Mississippi education legislation, such as the 1982 Education Reform Act, focused on directing funding toward traditional academic and curricular pursuits, the 1992 measure was intended to aid schools and institutions of higher learning in addressing facilities, overhead, and instructional needs. According to Andrew P. Mullins, assistant to the state superintendent of education at the time, while previous Mississippi education legislation was geared toward the traditional “Three Rs,” the Education Enhancement Act addressed needs relating to the “Three Bs”: buildings, buses, and books.
The act created the Education Enhancement Fund to collect and distribute money to Mississippi’s various educational systems. The Mississippi Department of Education established guidelines for distributing this funding to the K–12 system, and the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and the State Board of Community and Junior Colleges allocated funding for higher education.
The Education Enhancement Act reduced local ad valorem tax rates from 7 percent to 4 percent. Each month, 2.266 percent of the state’s aggregate sales tax revenue collected is deposited into the School Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund until the amount totals forty-two million dollars. Any amount collected in excess of that figure is then deposited into the Education Enhancement Fund. The money deposited into the Education Enhancement Fund is generated by the 9.073 percent of total monthly sales tax revenue collected that is earmarked for that purpose.
Each fiscal year, sixteen million dollars from the Education Enhancement Fund is allocated to the Mississippi Department of Education to be distributed to the various school districts. Of the remaining funds, 16.61 percent is allocated to funding the Mississippi adequate education program, 7.97 percent is allocated for transportation operations and maintenance, and 9.61 percent is allocated for classroom supplies, instructional materials, and equipment. For higher education, 22.09 percent of the money is allocated to the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning to support Mississippi universities, and 14.41 percent is allocated to the State Board of Community and Junior Colleges.
Between fiscal year 1993 and fiscal year 2007, more than $4.1 billion was allocated to Mississippi schools, community colleges, and universities, with approximately 70 percent of that amount going to the K–12 schools, 17 percent to the state universities, and 13 percent to the community colleges. The state budget for fiscal year 2016 projects spending of more than $382 million from the fund, including $273 million for General Education Programs, $43.3 million for community colleges, and $65.5 million for the state universities.
Republican governor Kirk Fordice vetoed the Education Enhancement Act of 1992, characterizing it as a tax increase. In a rare move, however, the legislature overrode the veto. The legislature subsequently passed resolutions recognizing the leadership of House Speaker Pro Tempore Robert George Clark and House Speaker Tim Ford in obtaining legislative approval of the act.
- Karen S. Louis, Karen Febey, Molly Gordon, Judy Meath, and Emanda Thomas, Educational Leadership in the States: A Cultural Analysis (2006)
- Andrew P. Mullins Jr., Building Consensus: A History of the Passage of the Mississippi Education Reform Act of 1982 (1992)
- Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Office of Policy Research and Planning, All Educational Appropriations, General and Education Enhancement Fund Appropriations, FY 1990–2007
- Mississippi Joint Legislative Budget Committee, State of Mississippi Budget Bulletin, Fiscal Year 2016 (1 May 2015)
- Mississippi State Board of Education, Rules and Regulations Regarding the Administration of Funds Appropriated for Education Enhancement Funds for Classroom Supplies and Materials (2007)