Since the recession began, K-12 education spending has declined dramatically in some states. In Alabama and Oklahoma, per-pupil spending fell by more than 20%.
While the majority of state school systems have cut spending between fiscal year 2008 and the upcoming fiscal year 2014, the cuts have been much more severe in some places than in others. According to the latest school spending data compiled by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), seven states have cut per-pupil spending by more than 15% in that time.
"The decline in state revenues was unlike anything that we've seen in decades," explained Michael Leachman, CBPP director of state fiscal policy. "The budget problems that resulted from this past recession were really historic." That, he continued, resulted in states being faced with a difficult choice for their school systems — to raise revenue through taxes during an economic downturn or cut school funding. The majority of states opted at least in part for education cuts.
Of the seven states with at least a 15% decline in school funding between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2014, five actually further limited their revenue by cutting income taxes.