States Slashing Education Spending

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5. Wisconsin
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -14.6% (tied-fifth highest)
> FY15 per pupil spending: $5,028 (22nd highest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $1,014 (2nd largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 27.7% (24th lowest)

Wisconsin is one of only two states where spending per pupil has fallen by more than $1,000 since fiscal 2008. The spending cuts were likely due, in part, to several large tax cuts passed in recent years and the resulting lower state revenue. According to the Wisconsin Budget Project, the legislature cut income taxes last year, which reduced state tax revenue by more than $320 million in both fiscal 2014 and 2015. Still, 91% of Wisconsin adults had completed at least high school last year, one of the higher rates nationwide. The 27.7% of adult residents who had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, however, was lower than the national rate of nearly 30% in 2013.

4. Idaho
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -16.2%
> FY15 per pupil spending: 5,005 (23rd highest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $964 (3rd largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 26.2% (13th lowest)

The 1.5% hike in per pupil spending in the most recent fiscal year was not enough to reverse years of state education spending cuts in Idaho. Between fiscal years 2008 and 2015, Idaho cut spending per pupil by more than 16%, or by $964 after adjusting for inflation. However, K-12 general funding isn’t the only education spending measure that’s been severely reduced. A recent study by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy found that state funding for higher education had fallen from 92.8% of total funding in 1980 to just 53.3% last year. Idaho is also among a minority of states that does not offer public preschool.

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3. Arizona
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -17.5%
> FY15 per pupil spending: $3,114 (6th lowest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $663 (10th largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 27.4% (22nd lowest)

Arizona is one of only four states where state funding has fallen by more than 15% since fiscal 2008. State general funding for fiscal 2015 totalled just $3,114 per student, less than in all but a handful of states. Like in many states cutting education spending, Arizona students performed poorly on standardized tests — particularly in reading — compared to their peers in other states. In recent years, Arizona legislators have cut corporate and capital gains taxes, which are sources of state revenue and, ultimately, school funding. And with three candidates for governor stating they would either reduce or do away with state income taxes if elected, Arizona education expenditures may continue to decline.

2. Alabama
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -17.8%
> FY15 per pupil spending: $5,199 (18th highest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $1,128 (the largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 23.5% (7th lowest)

In dollar terms, school spending in Alabama has fallen more than in any other state. Alabama spent $1,128 less per student this year than it did in fiscal 2008. While this amounts to a nearly 18% spending cut — second only to Oklahoma — Alabama still spends more per student than the majority of states. In fiscal 2015, school funding totalled $5,199 per student, one of the higher figures nationwide. However, the relatively high expenditure seems to have done little to improve test scores. Alabama school-age children performed worse on the NAEP than students in the vast majority of states.

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1. Oklahoma
> Pct. chg. per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): -23.6%
> FY15 per pupil spending: $2,769 (3rd lowest)
> Decline in per pupil spending (FY08-FY15): $875 (5th largest)
> Adults with bachelor’s degree: 23.8% (8th lowest)

Spending on education in Oklahoma has fallen by 23.6% since fiscal 2008, by far the largest decrease nationwide. The state’s education general funding formula allocated just $2,769 per student as of the current fiscal year, lower than all but two states. Like most states slashing education spending, Oklahoma students performed worse on standardized math and reading tests than their peers in most other states. And while nearly 30% of adult Americans had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, less than 24% of Oklahoma adults had done so as of last year, one of the lower rates nationwide. While most states increased funding for schools over the past year, per pupil expenditure fell 0.8% in Oklahoma.