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Despite Recent Boost, Public School Funding is Still Down

Posted by Kim Justice at Sep 12, 2013 08:45 PM |
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Lawmakers pumped an additional $1 billion into public schools for the current two-year budget period, but after multiple years of cuts, this boost is still not enough to return funding to pre-recession levels.

According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Washington state is spending $35 less per student than we did in 2008 (see graph). That has everything to do with the way lawmakers chose to respond to the recession. As revenues declined, lawmakers relied very heavily on cuts instead of raising necessary revenue. The cuts stymied education reform efforts to lower class sizes, increase learning time, and cover the costs of the basics like textbooks and school buses.  In 2012, the State Supreme Court ruled in its McCleary case that the state was underfunding our education system. Complying with the court’s mandate is estimated to cost approximately $4.5 billion a biennium.

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A strong education system provides businesses with educated workers and equips people with the right skills to compete in an ever-changing economy. Additionally, investments in health care, economic security for families, and early learning provide support for thousands of children of color, children from lower-income households, and children living in depressed regions who lack access to the kinds of economic opportunities available to children from wealthier families. In other words, these investments ensure educational success for all kids, not just those who can afford it. 

The Center’s full report can be found here.

For more analysis on our state’s education funding, see our brief, A Paramount Duty: Funding Education for McCleary and Beyond

 
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Our 2015-17 Legislative Agenda

Our 2015-17 Legislative Agenda calls for an equitable and sustainable revenue system in addition to state investments that will promote a world-class education system, sustain a strong, inclusive middle class, produce high quality, living wage jobs, and ensure equal opportunity to live healthy and productive lives.  Take a closer look here.

Budget Matters 2014

Thank you to those who made Budget Matters 2014 a success! Stay tuned for pictures, video clips and PowerPoints from this year's conference.

Legislative Testimony

Senior Budget Analyst Kim Justice recently testified before Senate Ways and Means against a bill that would fund education at the expense of other budget investments. Watch it here. 

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Budget Matters 2013

More than 300 people -- advocates, students, lawmakers, and policy experts joined us for our second annual policy conference. We heard from Heather McGhee, Jared Bernstein, and Governor Inslee.

Click here for video clips, photos, and PowerPoint presentations from the break-out sessions.

Our new video has highlights from the day. 

Heather McGhee