North Carolina has made extensive cuts to school funding since the start of the recession. These unnecessary cuts deepened the recession, slowed the recovery, and will make North Carolina less prosperous in the future.
North Carolina has cut investment in K-12 schools by 8.6 percent since 2008 when measured by per pupil spending, a deeper cut than 31 other states, according to a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.
“Good schools and an educated workforce foster economic growth, and we are shooting ourselves in the foot by reducing our investment in our schools and students,” said Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center. “These cuts have undermined our ability to educated North Carolina’s children and there will be consequences for North Carolina’s economy,”
State revenue declined sharply during the recession. North Carolina relied very heavily on cuts to state services, including education, despite also pursuing new revenues and deploying emergency federal dollars to temporarily protect classrooms in the early years of the Great Recession.
Even as revenues have begun to recover, North Carolina has only reinvested a small fraction of the education funding that was cut during the downturn. Instead policymaker’s chose to cut taxes for the wealthiest taxpayers and profitable corporations. As a result spending per student is $495 below pre-recession levels, taking inflation into account. North Carolina was also among the worst of the 16 states that cut enrollment in pre-kindergarten programs during the 2011-2012 school year.
North Carolina’s K-12 education cuts hurt the state’s economy in the short- and long-term. The cuts slowed the economic recovery by causing both public- and private-sector job loss as school districts throughout North Carolina laid off teachers and support staff, reduced pay for the remaining staff, and canceled contracts with private businesses.
Reducing investment in schools also has long-term economic consequences. A strong education system is essential to creating and maintaining a thriving economy. Businesses need a well-educated workforce, and education cuts undermine the state’s ability to produce workers with the skills needed to compete in a global economy.
“At a time when the nation is trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, states should be investing more — not less — to ensure our kids get a strong education,” said Michael Leachman, director of state fiscal research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and co-author of the report released today.
The Center’s full report can be found at: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=4011