Today at the Heritage Foundation, Dan Lips takes on Ten Reasons Why the “Economic Stimulus” Should Not Include Education Spending.
A central focus of this plan is to help states meet current fiscal challenges created by the recession and declining tax revenues. A growing number of states are facing budget deficits and are considering cutting spending on public services, including edu?cation. However, shifting the burden from states and localities to federal taxpayers is irresponsible, since funding public education is primarily a state and local, rather than federal, responsibility. Current budget shortfalls follow years of regu?lar increases in state spending levels. Proposed budget cuts should be placed in the context of today’s historic levels of education spending. Per pupil expenditures in U.S. public schools have increased by 49 percent over the past 20 years after adjusting for inflation. State policymakers should be able to identify areas where education spending can be reduced without diminishing the quality of education. Moreover, a federal bailout for states–which is what this bill would be–may only delay necessary adjustments in long-term spending projections. In fact, the proposed legislation would penalize states that choose to review their spending priorities and decrease education funding. The plan would require states to use funds to restore fiscal year (FY) 2008 funding levels in order to qualify for federal aid. At a time when many states should be reviewing their long-term spending commitments, the federal government would be pressuring them to do just the opposite.