A recent survey of 47 states where data was available by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities revealed that in inflation-adjusted terms, 23 states are spending less on education during the current school year than they did in 2008, the last year before the recession. Eight states have cut general funding per student by about 10 percent or more over this period. Five of those eight — Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin — enacted income tax rate cuts costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars each year rather than restore education funding. The survey also found that in 27 states, local government funding per student fell over the same period, adding to the damage from state funding cuts. In states where local funding rose, those increases rarely made up for cuts in state support.
In 2016, most states raised per-pupil general formula funding, but in most cases those increases weren’t enough to offset earlier cuts. Specifically, 28 states raised general funding per student in 2016, after adjusting for inflation, but at least 19 states cut per-student funding this year. In 12 of these states, the cuts came on top of previous cuts, leaving the state even further below pre-recession levels.