UCF Executive Committee cites Common Core and separation of powers in recommending vote against Initiative 42

The United Conservatives Fund (UCF) Executive Committee has voted to recommend all members, supporters and volunteers vote against Initiative 42. Initiative 42 is a ballot initiative that will amend the Mississippi Constitution to remove the state legislature from the position of creating education policy and hand authority to the judiciary.

UCF took a lead role in the veto of Senate Bill 2161 earlier this year. SB 2161 was a bill purported by supporters to end Common Core in Mississippi. UCF provided evidence to the contrary and launched a 3 week campaign to request Governor Phil Bryant veto the legislation, which he did in April.

UCF Director of Policy and Communication Keith Plunkett said there are many reasons to oppose the initiative, but it is the groups work on Common Core that is a key reason the organization is asking members to vote against the initiative.

“We’ve already had some state officials try to pull the wool over the public’s eyes when it comes to state policy regarding Common Core,” said Plunkett. “The Mississippi Department of Education and pro-government education administrators have shown a proclivity to bend rules of accountability to keep taxpayer funds coming their way. Removing the legislature’s authority by passing Initiative 42 would only serve to further remove education policy from the view of the public and the scrutiny of parents and local communities. We need to empower more parental involvement, not allow government to continue to take that responsibility away.”

Chairman of UCF, Senator Chris McDaniel said opposition to Initiative 42 should be very easy for anyone who considers themselves a conservative. 

“A core tenet of conservatism that has been shown throughout history to work to societies benefit is the liberty that results from decentralizing authority,” McDaniel said. “Initiative 42 is the exact opposite of decentralization. It takes the authority now vested in the representative legislature and concentrates it in the hands of a small number of people in the judiciary. We should be careful not to tamper with the separation of powers. ”

UCF Executive Committee member Gerard Gibert echoed the concern over the Constitution and the lack of spending oversight. 

“Initiative 42 suggests that the path to quality education outcomes and economic prosperity flows through a Hinds County Chancery Court,” said Gibert. “It confers oversight of half of Mississippi’s budget to a single judge and will eviscerate our constitutional right to representative government. Amending the Constitution through Initiative 42 will plunge Mississippi down a slippery slope that would make the left’s failed “war on poverty” seem like child’s play.”

Added committee member Laura Van Overschelde, “Changing the method for the public money’s to be given to one person or a very few is a significant paradigm shift away from the norm that has served us well for nearly 200 years. It changes the entire culture of separation of powers.”

The United Conservatives Fund Executive Committee is an 8-member committee consisting of conservative leaders from across Mississippi and representing a variety of member and affiliate groups.