School & District Management

Post-Election Outlook for State Aid to Schools Uncertain

By Joetta L. Sack — November 16, 2004 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

States will continue to see fiscal challenges in the coming years, a prospect that does not bode well for increasing their K-12 budgets, analysts from the National Conference of State Legislatures said at a post-election meeting here.

Along with Medicaid and other health-care expenses, precollegiate education is commanding a larger share of state budgets, the analysts said, squeezing out other programs in a time of revenue shortfalls and aversion to higher taxes.

Moreover, the federal government’s huge budget deficit and other pressing priorities—including the Iraq war, homeland security, tax changes, and Social Security—could take a big bite out of federal funds available to states, experts at the Nov. 5 gathering said.

John A. Hurson

“We clearly are very concerned about what all this means for state budgets,” said state Delegate John A. Hurson, a Democrat in Maryland’s lower house who is this year’s president of the NCSL.

The Denver-based NCSL brought its analysts here three days after the general elections to help dissect how the results might affect state policy—and to make the case that the outcomes of state-level campaigns should be looked at in addition to those for federal offices.

“All the oxygen gets sucked up by the race for the White House, but we happen to think that [states] is where the work is really being done,” said NCSL senior fellow Tim Storey.

See Also

Calling state legislative races the “hidden election,” Mr. Storey said some noteworthy trends emerged from the results. Among them were the dominance of Republicans in the South, and the strong showing in some places by Democrats, who picked up significant numbers of legislative seats in Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Vermont.

Close Party Splits

But the results did little to ease the close divisions between the two parties in many states.

“While the Democrats did manage to do OK at the state level, we are now in the position of a country that is very, very evenly divided,” Mr. Hurson said.

Given that reality, analysts said that legislators in many states will have to find ways to work together on big-ticket items such as the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which was identified by the experts here as one of the top issues for state lawmakers in the upcoming legislative sessions.

An NCSL task force has been meeting monthly since April of this year to discuss potential changes to the No Child Left Behind law. The panel’s recommendations, which are expected to center on the costs of implementing the law and the viability of states’ testing systems, are due to be released in late January.

Corinna Eckl, the NCSL’s fiscal-affairs director, said the preliminary data from states’ fiscal 2005 budgets show that revenues are at about the same levels they were in fiscal 2002, before states began to see massive budget shortfalls from the recession.

“I don’t think revenues will have the ability to return to the robust levels of the 1990s,” Ms. Eckl said. Further, she added, “we are in a more conservative fiscal climate.”

That conservative climate extended to ballot initiatives related to school finance that were put before voters around the country on Nov. 2. In general, voters were receptive to measures that increased education funding—if the proposals did not translate into higher taxes, said Jennie Bowser, an NCSL program principal. (“Voters Largely Reject Funding, Policy Shifts,” Nov. 10, 2004.)

While the tax-limitation movement may be starting to sputter, she said, the idea of tax increases for education is still not drawing many votes.

But states will be under a lot of pressure to restore money cut in the budgets for higher education in the last two years, as most residents see college as a means of improving their states’ economies, Ms. Eckl said.

The cuts to higher education have shifted more costs, including large tuition and fee increases, onto students and their parents, she said.

“There’s going to be additional pressure on lawmakers to relieve these pressures and give students greater access and more affordability,” Ms. Eckl said.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the November 17, 2004 edition of Education Week as Post-Election Outlook for State Aid to Schools Uncertain

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Principals: Supporting Your Teachers Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work
Principals can show teachers they care by something as simple as a visit to their classrooms or a pat on the back.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management From Our Research Center Nearly Half of Educators Say Climate Change Is Affecting Their Schools—or Will Soon
Most educators said their school districts have not taken any action to prepare for more severe weather, a new survey finds.
6 min read
Global warming illustration, environment pollution, global warming heating impact concept. Change climate concept.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Opinion 7 Ways Principals Can Support Teachers
Listening more than talking is one vital piece of advice for school leaders to help teachers.
13 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management What Schools Can Do to Tackle Climate Change (Hint: More Than You Think)
For starters, don't assume change is too difficult.
7 min read
Haley Williams, left, and Amiya Cox hold a sign together and chant while participating in a "Global Climate Strike" at the Experiential School of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Across the globe hundreds of thousands of young people took the streets Friday to demand that leaders tackle climate change in the run-up to a U.N. summit.
Haley Williams, left, and Amiya Cox participate in a Global Climate Strike at the Experiential School of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., in September 2019.
Khadejeh Nikouyeh/News & Record via AP