After the recession of 2008, Kentucky lawmakers tried to protect K-12 schools from direct spending cuts, instead taking funding from other state agencies.
But the combination of flat funding, inflation and a growing number of students still brought a 12.1 percent decline in per-student funding from 2008 to 2014, a new national study has found.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C., ranked Kentucky the 10th worst in the country for overall funding cuts during that time frame.
About 21 states improved funding, but in 15 states, including Kentucky, cuts exceeded 10 percent. Kentucky ranked better than states such as Arizona, Alabama, Idaho, Georgia and Mississippi and worse than states such as Kansas, Virginia and Texas.
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“A well-educated workforce is critical to growing the state’s economy,” said Ashley Spalding of the Kentucky Center of Economic Policy, which collaborated on the report. “By reducing investments in K-12 education, we are not only short-changing Kentucky’s kids but also the state’s future.”
Spalding said poor school districts are doubly hampered as they are less able to make up state cuts with local property taxes. Lower funding particularly hurts reform efforts such as higher teacher quality, smaller class sizes and high-quality higher education, she said.
Newly inaugurated Gov. Matt Bevin and his cabinet members are crafting a two-year state budget proposal, which Bevin will unveil in late January.
To read the entire report, go to cbpp.org.