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A Little Fact-Finding Mission

February 20, 2013 Politics-2013 No Comments

I’m not much of a fan of the Politifact approach to what used to be called journalism. But this column by Gardner Selby included one tidbit that I couldn’t resist. That tidbit was a chart of public education spending broken out by local, state, and federal dollars in the state from FY2004 through FY2013. Two good attributes of the data are that it was provided directly by the Legislative Budget Board and that it details their methodology for factoring in inflation.

What’s missing from that data, and would have made Selby’s take a bit more noteworthy, is that when you divide by the number of students enrolled, you get a spot-on view of the problem with education spending in Texas.

The 2013 total ($5,998) represents only 78% of “peak” funding in FY2009 ($7,665). Granted, the only reason that peak exists is because it also represents “peak” stimulus dollars. But even if you discount for stimulus funds out of the federal dollars, you’d still be looking at anywhere from flat-to-declining dollars. If you simply choose to look at the recent count as being 87% off of the pre-stimulus peak in FY2008, I’m not sure that it’s a boatload better.

Also, in case you’re wondering what it would take to ratchet Texas up to the national average of per-pupil spending … to accomplish this feat, it would basically take a doubling of the state portion of education dollars (which has fallen from $20B to $16B in the last four years).

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