The House budget passed late last night patches over part of the funding cliff facing North Carolina’s public schools next year, but only temporarily. The majority of the House budget’s $248 million increase in public school funding is one-time money, meaning that while the state’s public schools would dodge yet another round of damaging cuts in the upcoming school year, they would have to brace for yet another state budget fight in the following year, FY2013-14, when they will face yet another yawning budget gap – this time in the vicinity of $688 million. BTC looked closely at the House’s K-12 public education budget in the context of historic and pre-Great Recession state investment in public education and found that it would still fall far short of average annual state investment in public education over the last 40 years.
On average over the last 40 years, state spending on K-12 public education has averaged 2.6 percent of state personal income. More precisely, that means lawmakers have typically committed $25.90 in state revenues to funding public schools for every $1,000 earned by North Carolinians. Under the just-passed House budget, lawmakers would commit only $20.80 per $1,000 in North Carolina personal income to the state’s public schools – an amount almost 20 percent lower than the state’s historic commitment to public education.