States Slashing Education Spending

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10. Mississippi
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -12.3%
> FY15 per pupil spending: $4,452 (20th lowest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $ 623 (12th largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 20.4% (2nd lowest)

Mississippi students had among the nation’s worst test scores in both math and reading. Adult educational attainment rate, too, was quite low in the state. Just 82% of residents 25 and older had a high school diploma, a lower percentage than in all but two other states. Additionally, just over 20% of adults had a bachelor’s degree in 2013, higher only than West Virginia. Although state funding has dropped by 12.3% per pupil between the 2008 and 2015 fiscal years, many state legislators were still looking to regulate costs. Lawmakers particularly scrutinized rising administrative costs at a recent budget hearing. State Auditor Stacey Pickering also recently called for an examination of the state’s funding formula, citing its lack of a requirement for targeted classroom spending.

9. Maine
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -13.3%
> FY15 per pupil spending: $4,795 (24th lowest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $736 (7th largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 28.2% (24th lowest)

In its latest fiscal year, Maine cut per pupil state spending by more than 2%. Including these cuts, Maine has, in total, reduced per pupil spending by more than 13% since fiscal 2008. Despite the large cut, Maine is still better than a large number of states in general state spending per student, at $4,795 in the 2015 fiscal year. Maine recently announced that its schools would implement proficiency-based graduation requirements rather than basing graduation on the the number of credits received. Adults in the state are highly likely to have graduated from high school. As of last year, 91.8% of all Mainers 25 and older had at least a high school diploma, the fifth highest rate in the nation.

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8. Utah
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -13.7%
> FY15 per pupil spending: $4,198 (15th highest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $665 (9th largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 31.3% (14th highest)

Utah cut per pupil expenditure by $665, or 13.7%, between fiscal years 2008 and 2015. Following these cuts, Utah’s $4,198 in general funding per student was ranked in the bottom half of all states. Despite the spending cuts, figures from the Utah State Office of Education indicate that students have been increasingly graduating from high school in a timely manner, and that dropout rates have also been on the decline. In general, Utah adults tend to be fairly well educated. The state ranks ninth for high school attainment, with 91.5% of adults 25 and older having at least a high school diploma as of 2013. Also, more than 31% of adult residents had a bachelor’s degree, better than the majority of states.

7. North Carolina
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -14.5%
> FY15 per pupil spending: $5,030 (21st highest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $855 (6th largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 28.4% (23rd highest)

North Carolina cut per pupil spending by 4.7% between the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, the second largest decline in the nation that year. Since fiscal 2008, North Carolina has cut education spending per pupil by 14.5%. Despite these cuts, North Carolina’s general school funding per student still ranked in the top half of states nationwide. Education spending cuts have been a major talking point in the upcoming midterm election campaigns. One ad accused Thom Tillis, Republican candidate for Senator, as having cut $500 million from education as a state legislator — a claim Factcheck.org describes as “outdated and exaggerated.”

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6. Kansas
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -14.6% (tied-fifth highest)
> FY15 per pupil spending: $5,981 (10th highest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $861 (4th largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 31.1% (16th highest)

While education spending in Kansas has fallen by 14.6% since fiscal 2008, the state still spends more than most states on K-12 education. General school funding totalled $5,981 per pupil as of the current fiscal year, one of the higher figures nationwide. However, Kansas schools are still feeling the cuts. Schools have gained nearly 20,000 students statewide since the recession but have 665 fewer teachers, according to the Kansas Center for Economic Growth. And returning to past spending levels may be difficult, as revenue from income taxes had been declining in recent as a result of income tax rate cuts. According to The New York Times, Kansas collected $700 million less in tax revenue in fiscal 2014 compared to the previous fiscal year. School funding is currently drawn from the state’s operating reserves, which are expected to dry up next fiscal year at the latest.