It’s actually pretty remarkable that we even need a study to confirm something so obvious (What’s next? “Study confirms that days get longer in the summer and shorter in the winter”??) but a new study by the Economic Policy Institute does confirm once again what anyone with any common sense has long understood — namely, that investing in public education pays big dividends for states.
Here are the key findings — to which we can only wish Gov. McCrory, Art Pope and the General Assembly would pay attention:
- Overwhelmingly, high-wage states are states with a well-educated workforce. There is a clear and strong correlation between the educational attainment of a state’s workforce and median wages in the state.
- States can build a strong foundation for economic success and shared prosperity by investing in education. Providing expanded access to high quality education will not only expand economic opportunity for residents, but also likely do more to strengthen the overall state economy than anything else a state government can do.
- Cutting taxes to capture private investment from other states is a race-to-the-bottom state economic development strategy that undermines the ability to invest in education.
- States can increase the strength of their economies and their ability to grow and attract high-wage employers by investing in education and increasing the number of well-educated workers.
- Investing in education is also good for state budgets in the long run, since workers with higher incomes contribute more through taxes over the course of their lifetimes.
Put simply, cutting state investments in education — as North Carolina has been doing in recent years — is a shortsighted, counter-productive and downright DUMB idea. If the present course is not reversed (and soon) we will be suffering the consequences for decades to come.