Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wisconsin’s School Funding Cuts Among the Nation’s Deepest

Cuts Hurt Economy in Short- and Long-Term

Wisconsin’s cuts to school funding since the start of the recession are among the deepest in the country, according to a report released today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

The reduction in Wisconsin’s spending per student was the fourth largest nationally when measured in dollar terms, and eighth deepest as a percentage of total school aid. These cuts represent a significant threat to the state’s economy and long-term prosperity.

Wisconsin’s investment in K-12 schools is 13.7 percent below the spending per student in 2008, which means Wisconsin has made deeper cuts than at least 40 other states.  The analysis is based on state aid changes from fiscal year 2007-08 through 2012-13 in the 48 states that publish data in a way that allows historic comparisons.

“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot by making such deep cuts to education,” said Ken Taylor, WCCF’s executive director. “Good schools and an educated workforce are key drivers of economic growth. Undermining our ability to educate Wisconsin’s children could have an economic impact that will be felt for decades.”

The recession has resulted in a sharp drop in state revenue. But instead of addressing budget shortfalls by taking a balanced approach that includes new revenues, Wisconsin has relied very heavily on cuts to state services, particularly education.

Despite changes in state law enabling school districts to reduce employee compensation, schools have had to lay off teachers and other staff.  As we explained in an April blog post, Wisconsin’s 424 school districts lost a total of 2,312 full-time positions during the 2011-12 school year, and the number of teachers fell 2.4 compared to the previous year.

“Across much of the country, kids are going back to school to find more crowded classrooms, and – in some cases -- shorter school weeks,” said Phil Oliff, policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of the report released today. “That’s no way to develop our future workforce and build a strong economy.”

Jon Peacock

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