Over the last 10 years, the General Assembly has increased the Commonwealth's funding for public education by almost 60% (58.9) – from $3.7 billion in FY 2000 up to $5.9 billion in FY 2010 (as adopted during the 2009 session). Furthermore, if one includes the $365.2 million federal stimulus funding budgeted in the 2009 session for FY 2010, the total funding for FY 2010 increased by almost 70% (68.7) over FY 2000. Over the last 10 years, student membership only increased by 7.2% . So, while funding increased by 60%-70%, the number of students increased by less than 10%. Clearly, the Commonwealth has invested significantly more than population growth and more than inflation when times were good. Remember, too, that prior to last year, public education was held harmless while other state agencies and services were reduced during several rounds of budget cuts .
While Governor Kaine's FY 2010 introduced budget (HB 29 for the current fiscal year that ends on June 20, 2010) for public education does include a decrease to last year's adopted budget, that proposed funding is still 51.9% higher than the FY 2000 funding.
For the next two-year budget (HB 30) that begins July 1, 2010 and ends June 30, 2012, the state's estimates indicate deeper declines in state revenues because of the lingering effects of the worst economic recession in over 70 years or since the Great Depression. That means that education simply can no longer be held harmless to balance the state budget without a job-killing tax increase.
Given that additional cuts to state spending were included in Governor Kaine's two-year budget AND even with the proposed reductions, it's worth noting that:
- For FY 2011, K-12 spending of $5.7 billion is 53.4% higher than the FY 2000 level - while student membership is estimated to only increase by 8.1%.
- For FY 2012, K-12 spending of $5.8 billion is 55.4% higher than the FY 2000 level - while student membership is estimated to increase by 9.0%.
However, in order to avoid tax increases to the already struggling taxpayers and working families of Virginia, the new biennial budget spending (to which amendments will be offered by the House and Senate on Sunday, February 21) will have to be reduced further and state agencies will realize additional decreases. However, keep in mind that because of the federal stimulus requirement for a 'maintenance of effort', the public education budget will be funded at least to the FY 2006 level in FY2011. In many jurisdictions in my district those levels approach 2008 levels.
The data contained in our spreadsheet spans "Total Student Population" from 2002 - 2003 to 2009 - 2010 as opposed to the 10 year span detailed in our statewide analysis.