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October 17, 2014

Virginia Among Top States in Education Funding Cuts

Virginia’s near the top of a new list. But it’s not a good one.

Turns out only seven other states have cut the amount of state money they spend on each  K-12 student as deeply as Virginia since the start of the recession, based on the findings of a new report.

And it gets worse. Per-student spending in Virginia actually peaked during the 2008-2009 school year, a bit later than the time frame in the report. So looking at how far we’ve fallen from this peak, we’re in dire straits in the Old Dominion.

During the next school year, Virginia will spend nearly 17 percent less on each student than it did during the 2008-2009 school year, after adjusting for inflation. That translates to an average cut of $947 in state funding per student, in 2013 dollars.

State cuts mean that local governments have to pick up the slack. But not all localities have the wherewithal to make up for these cuts. When they can’t, kids get hit with larger class sizes, fewer support staff, or decaying facilities.   

The consequences reach far beyond the classroom. Chronic underinvestment in our students hurts Virginia’s economic competitiveness. Without an educated workforce that can adapt to the rapidly changing demands of a global economy, there’s no way that Virginia can keep up.

We need to be making strong investments for the economic health of our state, and education is one of the most crucial investments. Lawmakers need to stop the cuts and budget tricks that are hurting our students and quietly undermining our prosperity. 

–Mitchell Cole, Research Assistant

Learn more about the consequences of underinvestment and why budget cuts matter at The 2014 TCI Policy Summit, Nov. 12. More here.

The Commonwealth Institute

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