JACKSON — The Mississippi Association of Educators (MAE) has sent a message to legislators — don’t sacrifice schools to land the biomass-to-crude oil venture announced yesterday.
Legislators will debate an incentive package for the project during a special session of the Legislature today.
Kevin Gilbert, the president of the 8,000-member MAE, is urging legislators to exercise caution when developing packages to lure new businesses, especially if the incentives are at the expense of Mississippi students.
In a statement, Gilbert said: “Like most of the country, Mississippi is experiencing some very challenging times, and the economic recovery is moving slowly here in the Magnolia State. The members of the Mississippi Association of Educators welcome efforts to move this state forward economically. We value sound economic development because we see firsthand the importance of bringing more jobs to Mississippi. Our schools and other community services rely on a strong and fair tax base.
“We know that public education is the engine that drives our economy. Research shows that for every dollar invested in public education, there is a return of seven dollars in economic growth. And that investment multiplies across our economy at a faster rate than tax cuts. States that invest money in public education have the fastest growing, most sustainable economies.
“We must be fiscally responsible in how we convince businesses to come here. It’s important to remember that businesses have real responsibilities to the communities they serve—and it’s in their best interest to support their local public schools. The quality of education in a community is one of the main reasons a business chooses its location.
“MAE asks our legislators to ensure any business locating in Mississippi understands that contributing to our schools is vital to the quality of life and growth of our state.”