Former Gov. Haley Barbour, who is associated with Ridgeland's Butler Snow law firm, issued a statement today regarding recent comments made by the Chris McDaniel Senate campaign regarding federal education funding. He said:

Chris McDaniel's campaign is trying to change the subject away from McDaniel's irresponsible position that federal funding for education is unconstitutional and should be eliminated.

Last night, according to the Clarion-Ledger, McDaniel's campaign sent an email saying I have said the U.S. Department of Education should be abolished. Not only have I said that for years, I say it today. Like many conservatives I consider the U.S. Department of Education an unnecessary, expensive bureaucracy that gets in the way of state and local school officials; but that is a far cry from Chris McDaniel's stated position that federal funding for education is unconstitutional and should be eliminated.

Mississippi's schools Ð K-12, community colleges and universities Ð receive more than $1.5 billion a year in federal funding. Our K-12 schools alone get $800 million a year, one fourth of their state education budget! Virtually all funds for special education come from the federal government. Where would education in our state be without that money? What would we do if McDaniel had his way and that $1.5 billion was eliminated?

Close schools? Lay off teachers? Drop programs, like special ed? Or pass a gigantic tax increase? Most likely all of the above!

McDaniel told the Associated Press the state and local governments "could handle" the loss of one-fourth of the state K-12 budget. He also told the AP, Mississippi "could offset those losses." Voters should ask their local school officials what would happen if all federal funding were taken away from Mississippi education. Those school officials will tell voters the state and local taxpayers definitely can't "handle it," and there is no way we "could offset those losses," which would amount to more than $1.5 billion a year.

McDaniel's position that federal funding for education should be eliminated isn't conservative, it's reckless.