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K-12 School Funding Remains Below Pre-Recession Levels in at Least 34 States

States have made widespread and very deep cuts to education formula funding since the start of the recession, and those cuts linger in most states, our updated analysis of state school funding shows.

The reduced levels reflect not only the recession’s lingering effects but also continued austerity in many states; indeed, despite some improvements in overall state revenues, schools in about a third of states are entering the new school year with less state funding than they had last year.

Our review of state budget documents finds that, after adjusting for inflation:

  • At least 34 states are providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession.  Thirteen of these states have cut per-student funding by more than 10 percent (see chart).
  • At least 15 states are providing less funding per student to local school districts in the new school year than they provided a year ago — despite the fact that most states are experiencing modest increases in tax revenues.
  • Where funding has risen, it has generally not risen enough to make up for cuts in past years.  For example, New Mexico is increasing school funding by $72 per pupil this year.  But that’s too small to offset the state’s $946 per-pupil cut over the previous five years.