This week, the Initiative 42 “debate” has adjourned for some sort of intermission. Team Status Quo (the Anti-Funders) have abandoned their usual talking points in favor of a silent campaign. In fact, they seem to be growing desperate. When confronted by the actual FACTS, their “one judge in Hinds County” line crumbles, their “administrative salary boost” thesis stalls out, and their “budget cuts” mythology seems a lame trick indeed. They’ve tried every whopper and puzzler they can think of to muddle the issue. Friday on Twitter, one lobbyist even tried linking Initiative 42 supporters with Common Core (can you say “Ooooh! Spooky!”?) Next you’ll be hearing rumors that the Parents Campaign is infected with Ebola, and Fed Up With 50th is some sort of top-secret ISIS Housewives of Biloxi brigade. We’re just a couple of shrugs away from “I am rubber, you are glue” at this point.
So somebody must have called a cease fire on the talking points. The Anti-Funders have explored a new tack this week: banishing the truth.
When Telling the Truth Hurts, Don’t Say Anything at All…
Tuesday, the media confirmed 42 For Better Schools had filed a public records request to obtain Initiative 42-related emails from Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn. Reeves and Gunn declined the request, citing legislative rules loopholes they said made the records not subject to public review. Who is putting pressure on the legislature to oppose Initiative 42? What sneaky tricks have they stooped to? We may never know. Indeed, there probably was never any real expectation to see the records. Instead, the records request and subsequent denial served to confirm what many have suspected all along: the legislative opposition to Initiative 42 operates in secret purposefully, avoiding transparency wherever possible.
…When Others Start Telling the Truth, Tape Their Mouths Up…
The very next day, on the heels of complaints from the legislature and state auditor’s office, MDE sent an email to school superintendents warning them to remove from their websites “any information that could be interpreted as supporting or opposing either of the education funding initiatives.” Initiative 42 would mathematically increase school funding, so schools would benefit from its passage, objectively- factually- literally. So would a school simply stating the facts of its impact on daily operations not be interpreted as supporting it? This is a gag order from the government, pure and simple- a gag order from telling the truth. Considering they’ve instructed IHL and so many other state department heads to parrot their budget-cut fearmonger talking points, they clearly have no problem instituting strict double standards.
…When the Truth Starts Presenting Itself, Just Make Up Your Own Reality Without It.
They’re even bound and determined to insert their bias into the language of the ballot itself. State law requires a fiscal analysis to be included on the ballot. Though Legislative Budget Director Debbie Rubisoff had previously completed the language of the analysis, it wasn’t slanted against Initiative 42 enough for the tastes of Tate Reeves and others, so they had her change it. The new version reportedly includes Chairman Frierson’s scare tactics bias, so uninformed voters will have no way of knowing there is definitely a way to fund the change without budget cuts, or that the counterproductive method listed on the ballot was invented and promoted by people who want the initiative to fail. Though several voices have called for an independent fiscal analysis to remove this obvious political game, the language has not yet been finalized.
In some alternate reality, perhaps there’s a version of Mississippi with leaders who respect the democratic process. In this Bizarro-Mississippi, legislators aren’t hellbent on thwarting their people’s right to have a say in government. They make their case, they play their cards, and they go home as respectable people. They may disagree with adequate funding for schools, but they have enough character to be men- real men of integrity- who are aware of their principles daily and the democratic ideals they claim to believe. In Bizarro-Mississippi, leaders are supportive of level playing fields, because they aren’t cowards, and they know there are some powers higher than themselves. They serve the voters, and they serve God.
Here, though, for now, we’re stuck with these dirty clowns.