Most states have yet to restore per-pupil public school spending to pre-recession levels. The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently reported some startling numbers. Compared with 2008, inflation-adjusted spending per student for the 2014 fiscal year is down 23 percent in Oklahoma, down 20 percent in Alabama and 17 percent in Arizona. Energy-rich North Dakota posts a 28 percent increase.
Washington comes in less than 1 percent, just $35 per pupil, below the 2008 mark, comparing relatively favorably. Tweak the inflation measure and we could climb into positive territory. Thirty-two states do worse. And our Legislature made substantial progress in the last session.
The CBPP report arrives just months before the state Supreme Court grades the Legislature's progress toward meeting the court's mandated increase in basic education spending, known as the McCleary decision. Last month lawmakers turned in their second annual report.
Next, education advocates will submit their evaluation of legislative efforts. They've already indicated their displeasure. Then, the court will deliver its judgment.