THURSDAY, FEB. 22, 2007

(601) 969-2913

New Barbour campaign ad distorts facts

JACKSON (Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007) – Republican Gov. Haley Barbour’s re-election campaign is currently airing a new television ad touting his support of public education – but the ad is filled with untruths, misinformation and distorted facts.

Here is a point-by-point rebuttal.

Male announcer in Barbour ad: For decades Mississippians have worked
to improve our public schools.

Female announcer: Under Haley Barbour’s leadership, we are making
historic progress.

Mississippi is making progress in public education despite Barbour’s Republican administration.

For the first three years of Barbour’s administration, the governor has opposed fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program – the state’s basic funding for K-12 public schools. He doesn’t mention that in any of his TV ads or public appearances.

Jim Barksdale, Mississippi’s most generous philanthropist, offered to give $50 million for at-risk students enrolled in the Barksdale Reading Institute program in 2005 – contingent on the state fully funding the MAEP. But the governor and other Republicans wouldn’t move.

Last year, at a political event sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council, Barbour called the MAEP an “artificial formula.” And weeks later when Barbour released his proposed budget for the 2007 Legislature to consider, he suggested under funding the MAEP for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Now, however, Barbour has had a sudden change of heart. He has said he plans to sign a bill this spring that would fully fund the MAEP for the next fiscal year.

Barbour’s stand changed after the Mississippi Department of Education slightly reduced the amount of money needed to fully fund the MAEP. His hasty flip-flop also helped him stave off growing anger from educators and parents who likely would have created serious problems for him in an election year.

If Barbour does sign a bill fully funding the MAEP for the next fiscal year, can Mississippians count on him to do the same next year and the next year and the next year?

Male announcer: Haley’s budget results in the largest four-year increase in
K-12 spending in state history.

Female announcer: Nearly $500 million dollars more for our kids.

Barbour’s ad doesn’t say where the money came from or what it specifically funded.

But here’s the truth: Much of the increase in state spending on public education for the past three years funded a multi-year, public school teacher pay raise that was approved by the Legislature before Barbour took office and under the leadership of former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

Male announcer: Our teachers are earning more than ever.

Teachers are earning more money today. But their higher salaries are the direct result of the multi-year teacher pay raise package that was approved under Musgrove’s leadership. Barbour had absolutely nothing to do with those teacher raises even though he is trying to take credit for them.

Woman announcer: And under Gov. Barbour we are reforming schools
to get better results for the money we spend.

Barbour’s ad mentions no specific education reforms.

Any significant reforms the past three years have come under the leadership of state Education Superintendent Hank Bounds, who has proposed redesigning middle school and high school education to better prepare children for higher education and entering the work force.

Other significant education reforms have included a focus on reducing high school dropouts and increasing high school graduation rates – both of which were approved under the guidance of the Democratic leadership in the state House and with the cooperation of Bounds.

Male announcer: Haley Barbour. Leadership makes a difference.

Leadership does make a difference.

The Mississippi Democratic Party believes leadership also means being truthful with the people; offering significant guidance to the state of Mississippi; plotting a clear future for the state; and guiding us on the right path to success.

In the Mississippi House of Representatives, Democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy and other Democrats have done just that. But Barbour has repeatedly fought the state House leadership all three years he has been in office.

Democratic Party leaders believe Mississippi needs someone to stand up for issues that will help everyone in the state and not just a select few – issues that include fully funding all aspects of education, reducing the state sales tax on groceries and helping people recover from Hurricane Katrina.

“It’s time we elect someone to office who offers a clear vision for the future and not someone who says one thing but does something else,” said Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “We need someone we believe in, who shoots straight and who is a true leader.”

# # #