Wednesday, December 17, 2008

California and other states cut education

By Nicholas Johnson, Elizabeth Hudgins, and Jeremy Koulish
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Twenty-seven states have cut education because they face massive, devastating budget deficits in this recession.

The combination of rising unemployment, declining consumer spending, declining asset values, and foreclosures has led to declining state revenues. And the number of people in poverty is growing, adding costs to state budgets for programs such as Medicaid and social services.

Education is by far the largest component of state budgets. Some 46 percent of all state general fund expenditures is devoted to elementary, secondary, and higher education.

Nearly all states are required to balance their general fund budgets. When large budget deficits develop, education often is cut deeply.

The following details cuts in education funding and programs states have made as they enacted their fiscal year 2009 budgets and additional cuts as they faced mid-year deficits. In addition, while most governors’ budgets for fiscal year 2010 have not yet been released, there already are some education cuts on the table for next year.

As the fiscal year 2010 budgets are released in January and February, it is highly likely that additional states will propose cuts in education and that the cuts will deepen significantly.

K-12 Education and Other Childhood Education Programs

At least 18 states have implemented cuts to K-12 education. At least one state is proposing such cuts.

Florida has cut aid to local school districts for the current year by $130 per pupil. Georgia has cut aid to local school districts for the current year by $99 per pupil. South Carolina has cut per-pupil funding by $95 in the current year and is in the process of making additional reductions. Maine has cut K-12 funding about $140 per pupil; this comes on top of education cuts earlier this year that were targeted to reduce specific programs.
Massachusetts enacted cuts to Head Start, universal pre-kindergarten programs, and early intervention services to help special needs children develop appropriately and be ready for school. Funding for K-12 education has also been reduced, including spending for mentoring, teacher training, reimbursements for special education residential schools, services for disabled students, and programs for gifted and talented students.
Maryland cut funding for a school breakfast pilot program, professional development for principals and educators, health clinics, gifted and talented summer centers, and math and science initiatives.
In Nevada, the governor has ordered various cuts to K-12 education, including delaying an all-day kindergarten expansion, cutting per pupil expenditures in a pilot program by $400, eliminating funds for gifted and talented programs, eliminating funds for a magnet program for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and making across-the-board cuts. Additionally, young children with developmental delays will lose more than 15,000 hours of needed services.
California’s budget reduces basic K-12 education aid to local school districts. It also cuts a variety of other programs, such as adult literacy instruction.
Rhode Island has frozen state aid for K-12 education at last year’s levels in nominal terms and reduced the number of children who can be served by Head Start and similar services by more than 550.
State education funding has also been cut in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Kansas has been delaying payments to school districts.
In the recently released New York budget for fiscal year 2010, the governor proposes nearly $2 billion in cuts in education funding. Reductions in aid to individual school districts would range between 3 percent and 13 percent. In addition, a number of specific programs are eliminated, including supplemental math/science programs and new-teacher mentoring programs.

Colleges and Universities

At least 24 states have implemented cuts to public colleges and universities and/or are implementing large increases in college tuition to make up for insufficient state funding.

When the state of Rhode Island cut higher education funding last year, the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and the Community College of Rhode Island all increased tuition for the current academic year. Each of these institutions now has gone one step further by increasing tuition further mid-year, by 6.7 percent, 8.2 percent, and 14.3 percent respectively.
In Florida, university budgets and community-college funding have been cut. The University of Florida has announced it will eliminate 430 faculty and staff positions and decrease funding for disability services, financial aid services, and internship opportunities. Student enrollment is declining by more than 1,000 at both Florida State University and the University of Florida. The legislature has approved a statewide tuition increase of 6 percent; the University of Florida is increasing tuition for in-state under-graduates by 15 percent.
Arizona State University plans to address its loss of state funds by holding vacant or laying off 150 to 200 faculty associates, boosting class size, and reducing enrollment in its nursing school by 5 percent to 10 percent.
In Kentucky, state budget cuts to colleges and universities of about 3 percent have led to in-state tuition hikes of 5.2 percent at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. The Council on Postsecondary Education has also approved in-state tuition increases for universities across the state from 6.1 percent (Murray State University) to 9 percent (University of Kentucky and University of Louisville). Additionally, the University of Kentucky has announced 188 faculty and staff positions will be eliminated.
Following cuts to state university budgets, tuition increases have been announced in Alabama (13 percent), New Jersey (4 percent to 9 percent), Maine (10 percent), Oklahoma (9 percent to 10 percent), South Carolina (6 percent), Tennessee (6 percent), and Virginia (average increase of 7.3 percent when fees are included). California is raising in-state tuition by 7.4 percent to 10 percent as part of its October budget deal, and in November the governor called for an additional 10 percent cut to universities. In New York, resident undergraduate university tuition is rising 14 percent to 15 percent; funding for community colleges is proposed to be cut but the impact on tuition is not year clear.
Other states making cuts in higher education operating funding include Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Large tuition increases are likely in some or most of these states.
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