Our friends at the Center for Public Policy Priorities have come out with a new report on education funding in Texas just in time for the start of the 2013-2014 school year. Its key findings:
- The new two-year budget does not fully restore funding for schools.
- School funding does not keep up with population and inflation.
- Pre-kindergarten continues to be underfunded.
The report by CPPP analyst Chandra Villanueva makes it clear that the issue is not just the legislature’s failure to restore fully the funds that were cut in the 2011 session. Villanueva cites the 2008 level of combined state/local/federal spending as the best gauge of the budget ground Texas still needs to make up.
In 2008, spending averaged $10,220 per student (adjusted to allow apples-to-apples comparisons in terms of 2013 dollars). “Under the new budget,” Villanueva writes, “per-student funding will drop to $9,609 for 2014-2015….This represents a $611 per-student drop in funding from pre-recession levels or $18,330 per classroom of 30 students. To bring school funding back to 2008 levels, an additional $5.9 billion from state, local or federal sources would be needed for the 2014-2015 biennium.”
Here’s another way to say it: Even though for the coming biennium the legislature has now restored 85 percent of the $4 billion that was cut from public education in 2012-2013, the state has not even begun to make up for the longer-term deterioration in per-pupil funding since 2008.
Nor did the legislature do much at all to restore grant funding, which was cut by more than $1 billion last biennium, including the loss of $200 million for full-day pre-kindergarten. Almost all of the cuts in grant funding will continue for another two years under the new budget. The report notes: “Hardest hit by this disinvestment in public education are those who are poised to gain the most from a quality education and supportive educational services—economically disadvantaged and at-risk children.”
In spite of the new budget’s partial restoration of funds cut in 2012-2013, the CPPP report shows that school districts suing the state over funding inadequacy still will have plenty of grist for their argument when the trial on their claims resumes in state district court in January.
You can view the full CPPP report, “Sizing Up the 2014-15 Texas Budget: Public Education,” here: