Monday, March 3, 2014

Latest OH Budget Smallest Ed Commitment in 6 Years

Since last week's State of the State address, many have been claiming that this most recent Ohio budget represents the largest increase to education funding ever. I have dealt with this argument many times, but essentially the only reason you can call this budget a huge increase is because last budget was the biggest cut in state history.

However, there's now a nuanced argument going around that says that education spending has gone up every year under Gov. John Kasich. What they fail to recognize is that all funding has gone up during the last four years because of the economic recovery. They also fail to mention that the funding for education now represents a smaller share of the overall state budget than it has at any point in the last six years, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

What you can see from this table (derived from LSC's Budget in Detail from the last three budgets) is that the education spending level actually dropped in the FY12-FY13 budget, while the amount in FY15 is still less than FY10. Remember that FY10-FY11 was during the depths of the Great Recession. What has increased substantially is the overall budget during the last cycle.

So even though the education spending amount has increased ever so slightly, relative to the rest of the budget, this last biennial budget represents a 2 percent cut in commitment overall from the 10-11 budget -- the one prior to Kasich taking office.

If this budget had the same commitment as the one prior to Kasich taking office, Ohio would have spent $1.3 billion more on education in FY15 than it actually is spending.

It's not enough to say you're spending more; what matters is how much you are spending on education compared  with other budget priorities. And according to LSC, the state is spending 2% less of this budget on education than the one prior to Kasich taking office.