Caresse Jackman

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Video: 2014 Legislative Session Begins

JACKSON, Miss. (WCBI)-The new year means new goals for lawmakers. Republicans are hoping for major changes in the public safety and the prison system.

“A lot of judges are complaining that they sentence somebody and all of a sudden they show back up in Lowndes County. We want to make sure they stay in prison for the length of time the judge wants them to stay there,” said Representative Gary Chism.

But other legislators say the main focus this year should be education.

“We have a $240 million surplus and we have schools that are under-funded, schools that are almost unfunded. And yet we’re putting more money into the department of corrections to incarcerate people than we are to educating children,” said Representative Tyrone Ellis.

Funding for education isn’t the only concern. Valerie Pace works for Stop Common Core, an organization raising awareness about the curriculum standards adopted by the state two years ago. She says our education system needs major reform.

“Common core stops at the middle of Algebra II and that’s not really very publicized. We haven’t really been warned as parents as community members that there’s something lacking in the common core state standards. We would rather have local control rather than national so the teachers can be able to control their classroom,” said Pace.

Another item on this year’s agenda, fine tuning the two school consolidation bills passed last year for West Point & Clay County as well as Starkville & Oktibbeha county.

“They would like to see us pass some monetary items to bring the school buildings of Oktibbeha County to the standards that the Starkville school district has. They also asked for legislation dealing with bond issues, dealing with elections, dealing with school issues for those schools that have been taken over,” said Representative Chism.

Representative Chism says there are dozens of other things they’d like to work on. One item include passing teacher pay raise legislation.

State funding is also a hot topic this year.

The legislative session ends April 10th.