Published Online: July 23, 2008

States Slash K-12 Funding to Fill Budget Gaps

State education budgets are being battered in a fiscal year that is proving to be even worse than projected, with 11 states already having cut K-12 education and others facing budget woes, according to a report released today by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.

Cumulative budget gaps have grown to $40 billion in fiscal 2009, from $13 billion last fiscal year. So far, K-12 funding has been cut in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia, the report said.

Higher education wasn’t spared, either: A dozen states cut funding to public colleges and universities.

The causes are numerous, and often vary by state. Severe flooding and tornadoes have devastated Iowa and its budget, while a steep decline in gambling-related revenue is plaguing Nevada. Decline in the manufacturing sector is vexing 22 states, and the housing slump is affecting 17 states.

Even so, the report said that in eight states, the “education services” industry was among the strongest sectors of their economies.

The economic news from the states only seems to be getting worse. In November 2007, seven states reported budget gaps—a number that had doubled by April 2008 and grown again to 20 by June.

That news mirrors earlier reports from organizations including the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers. ("Governors Warned of Rough Fiscal Waters," June 19, 2008.)

Vol. 27, Issue 44

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