PolicyBlog has moved!

Thank you for visiting, PolicyBlog has a new address.

Our new location is http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/policyblog

Please adjust your bookmarks. Archived posts will remain here for now.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fact Check: Pennsylvania State and Local Education Spending

Today the Pennsylvania Department of Education is on day 3 of their "Tax You More" bus tour. While the administration continues their taxpayer funded lobbying effort, Commonwealth Foundation President Matt Brouillette is following along, offering some fact checking on education spending.

Here are some more facts on education spending:

  • The state share of education funding has always been less than half of school district spending.
    • Until 1983, a state law dictated that the Commonwealth should provide 50% of K-12 funding. This mandate was never fully fulfilled because of consistent increases in local district spending.
    • The state's share of education funding peaked in the 1971-72 school year at 45%.
  • The state's share has diminished not because of reduced spending (far from it) but due to sharper increases in spending and property taxes by local districts.

Much of this additional spending has been funneled to school construction, an area of spending not linked to performance. From 1996-97 to 2005-06, overall public school spending increased a startling 103% on construction and debt. Furthermore, schools that receive more money per pupil spend a greater share on facilities - indicating many school officials have an "edifice complex".

More Info:

Budget Facts 2009: State Education Spending (click here for a printable version)


Matt Z said...

Are these inflation adjusted numbers? If not, an inflation adjusted column would be very helpful to tell the full story.

With a little bit of quick math (info from Fed BLS) you can show $24.3 Billion in 2009 is equal to just less than $4 Billion in 1968 Dollars -- so it's basically a 100%+ jump in spending over 40 years.

Also, a per-pupil number would be helpful too. 100% increase in spending, when there is a couple hundred percent increase in population tells a very different story.

Nathan Benefield said...

Good points Matt Z,

The table now includes an inflation adjusted version.

I don't have the per-pupil figures or enrollment numbers going back that far, but I do know that school enrollment and population has been relatively flat in PA over that time (in fact, enrollment was higher in 1980 - 1.9 million - than it is today, about 1.8 million students)

bobguzzardi said...

This is excellent. Total spending on government schools in 200802009 is $24.3 billion. good point from Matt Z about inflation adjusted and, of course, is there any indication that student learning performance has improved. Good point about number of students 1.8 million is another good number to know.