New study shows sharp decline in Wisconsin school funding since 2008

Red arrow breaking floor. Concept of  bankruptcy, financial coll

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says Wisconsin is spending about 11% less on K-12 public education than it did in 2008.

“Public investment in K-12 schools — crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity — has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade. Worse, most of the deepest-cutting states (including Wisconsin) have also cut income tax rates, weakening their main revenue source for supporting schools,” according to the report.

“At least 23 states will provide less ‘general’ or ‘formula’ funding — the primary form of state support for elementary and secondary schools — in the current school year (2017) than when the Great Recession took hold in 2008, our survey of state budget documents finds.  Eight states have cut general funding per student by about 10 percent or more over this period. Five of those eight — Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin — enacted income tax rate cuts costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars each year rather than restore education funding.”

According to the report:

  • Wisconsin’s K-12 state funding, inflation-adjusted, fell 11.5% between 2008 and 2014.
  • State general funding, inflation-adjusted, per student in Wisconsin fell 10.6% from 2008 to 2016-17 (the current school year).

The report says it selected 2008 as the base year because “states cut K-12 funding — and a range of other areas, including higher education, health care, and human services — as a result of the 2007-09 recession, which sharply reduced state revenue. Emergency fiscal aid from the federal government prevented even deeper cuts but ran out before the economy recovered, and states chose to address their budget shortfalls disproportionately through spending cuts rather than a more balanced mix of service cuts and revenue increases. Some states have worsened their revenue shortfalls by cutting taxes.”

“Restoring school funding should be an urgent priority. Steep state-level K-12 spending cuts have serious consequences,” the report concludes.

“Local school districts typically struggle to make up for major state funding cuts on their own, so the cuts have led to job losses, deepening the recession and slowing the economy’s recovery. They also impede important state education reform initiatives at a time when producing workers with high-level technical and analytical skills is increasingly important to the country’s prosperity.”

Read the entire report:

After Nearly a Decade, School Investments Still Way Down in Some States

Public investment in K-12 schools – crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity – has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade. Public investment in K-12 schools has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade.Worse, most of the deepest-cutting states have also cut income tax rates, weakening their main revenue source for supporting schools.