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Report on State Spending and GOP Tax Policies

July 16, 2018

A new report by the American Federation of Teachers shows that 41 states spend less money per higher education student today than they did before the 2008 recession. The report, titled "A Decade of Neglect: Public Education Funding in the Aftermath of the Great Recession," details the effects of austerity measures taken in the last 10 years.

"While state support has declined, the overall average cost of attending college has risen. Tuition costs for two-year colleges are up by an average 36 percent, and for four-year colleges, they are up by an average 40 percent, even after adjusting for inflation," the report says.

The findings also show that the decrease in public spending on higher education has lead to an increase in enrollment at for-profit colleges.

Extending beyond higher education, the report revealed that K-12 education is underfunded by $19 billion across 25 states. In 38 states, the average teacher salary is lower today than it was in 2009, and the student-to-teacher ratio is worse than it was in 2008.

The report points to states with Republican low-tax policies as the worst offenders. In addition, Congress is already using the tax cuts enacted by the Trump administration in December, which will cost $1.9 trillion, to call for greater disinvestment in public education. The tax cuts, coupled with the increase in voucher programs and charter schools, have put pressure on schools to cut services like counseling, libraries and special education.

"But blaming our current fiscal situation on the recession alone ignores the fact that states, mostly those controlled by Republican governors and state legislators, made things worse by pushing tax cuts for the wealthy," the report read. "These tax cuts for the very rich have drained state budgets of the resources needed to support our nation’s schools."

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Emma Whitford

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