May 23, 2018

Some states are cutting public school funding

Center on Budget & Policy Priorities  -A significant share of states are providing much less school funding than they were a decade ago, according to new data from the Census Bureau that we supplemented with our own look at state budget documents.

Together, state and local government school funding across the nation has finally recovered from the last recession, which took hold during the 2008 school year. In the 2016 school year, state and local funding per student was just $5 below 2008 levels — essentially where it had been.  State and local funding in 27 states exceeded pre-recession levels in 2016, the first year since the recession when most states reached that threshold.

While combined state and local funding in 2016 was nearly back to pre-recession levels nationally, state funding was down $166 per student while local funding was up $161.  The shift from state to local funding raises equity concerns.  Local funding relies heavily on local property taxes.  Because school districts in neighborhoods with high property values find it much easier to raise adequate revenue than districts where property

Further, while state and local school funding had largely recovered nationally by 2016, combined funding in a significant share of states remained far below pre-recession levels in inflation-adjusted terms.  Arizona, the deepest-cutting state, was providing 23.4 percent per student less than in 2008; Florida was providing 22.9 percent less; and North Carolina, Nevada, Georgia, Alabama, Idaho, and Oklahoma were all providing over 10 percent less.

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