From the Wisconsin Budget Project
Wisconsin has cut about $1 out of every $8 that it spends supporting students in K-12 schools, a cut larger than all but three other states, according to a new report. Wisconsin cut state general funding for K-12 schools by 12.7% per student between 2008 and 2016 after adjusting for inflation, with only Oklahoma, Alabama, and Arizona making larger cuts.
Many of the other states with the biggest cuts to education have also cut income taxes during this period. Wisconsin, like Oklahoma, Arizona, and Idaho made very deep cuts in state support for education while also implementing significant income tax cuts.
Wisconsin’s cuts to education are especially deep when compared to what has happened in Minnesota in recent years. In Minnesota, lawmakers have made significant new investments to ensure that children have access to an excellent public education. State general funding per student increased by 6.9% in Minnesota between 2008 and 2016.
The cuts in state support can’t be made up at the local level. That’s because at the same time that they have cut state support for local schools, Wisconsin lawmakers have prohibited local school districts from making up the loss by raising property taxes.
The report includes several other ways of measuring the change in how Wisconsin supports schools, including:
- The percent change in total per-student state funding from 2008 to 2014. Only seven states have a bigger cut than Wisconsin using this measure.
- The percent change in per-student state general funding from 2015 to 2016. Only three states have a bigger cut than Wisconsin using this measure.
- The percent change in total state and local funding from 2008 to 2014. Only 12 states have a bigger cut than Wisconsin using this measure.
Wisconsin’s cuts to education have had serious consequences for Wisconsin’s schoolchildren, communities, and economy. Reducing state support for education has made it harder for Wisconsin to:
- Improve teacher quality. Students learn best with well-qualified, talented teachers. But in Wisconsin, cuts to education funding and the resulting school budget cuts have made it more difficult to attract and retain high-quality teachers. Some Wisconsin school districts have struggled with finding enough teachers to fill vacancies, and the share of school districts with average teacher experience of 15 years or more has plummeted.
- Keep class sizes small. Wisconsin’s student-teacher ratio has climbed in recent years, from 14.8 students per teacher in 2009 to 15.1 students in2013.
- Boost job creation. State K-12 cuts have slowed the economic recovery by reducing overall economic activity. In Wisconsin, schools have lost nearly 3,000 teaching jobs over the last decade.
For the full report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, go here: Most States Have Cut School Funding, and Some Continue Cutting.
Read the national perspective from U.S. News:
Students raise their hands in a 5th grade classroom on Aug. 27, 2015 at Charles Pinckney Elementary School in Charleston, S.C. The Great Recession may be officially over, but state spending on K-12 education hasn’t recovered.