Report: State school funding behind pre-recession levels
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s public school funding is still 11.7 percent less than the state spent before the 2008 recession, according to a new national report.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit based in Washington. D.C., found that 29 states, including New Mexico, are still spending less on public schools than they did before the recession, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Wednesday.
The nonprofit’s report titled “A Punishing Decade for School Funding” is based on 2015 data from state budgets and the U.S. Census Bureau.
The report cites declining oil and gas revenues, income tax cuts and a lack of revenue-saving initiatives among the reasons the 29 states decreased their public school funding.
In New Mexico’s case, its schools are paying for pre-recession tax cuts that were put in place before Gov. Susana Martinez entered office, said Michael Leachman, the nonprofit’s director of state fiscal research, during a Tuesday phone conference with reporters.
“For a while, because oil prices were high, the revenue impact of those tax cuts was not as evident,” he said, “but now that oil prices have fallen . you look back at those tax cuts and say, ‘I’m not sure how affordable they were.’ ”
Tax cuts have cost schools across the nation the ability to hire more qualified teachers and have resulted in a decrease in classroom size, according to Leachman.
New Mexico education officials declined requests for comment.
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com