Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes discusses what he sees as differences and opportunities between the Kentucky Education Association and other professional organizations such as the Air Line Pilots Association.
Perhaps the best source of credible, “apples to apples” state education funding data is the US Census Bureau’s annual report called Public Education Finances. “Public Education Finances: 2010” just came out, and I’ve been looking over Table 12. This table ranks the states on a number of educational revenue and spending items for the 2009-2010 school year in relationship to the wealth of the state’s taxpayers. Table 12 levels the playing field for poor states like Kentucky.
I think the rankings from this Census Bureau document are revealing.
Consider teachers’ pay.
Once the Kentucky taxpayer’s ability to pay is considered, the average for salaries for instruction in our school system ranks 13th best in the nation. Despite all the noise we are hearing currently about funding for education, Kentucky’s taxpayers already are providing for teachers well above what the taxpayers’ incomes would indicate they might be expected to provide.
Kentucky’s taxpayers also hit a bit above the national norm for their funding for teacher benefits, with the state ranking 24th out of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia on that measure.
After considering the taxpayers’ income, Kentucky ranked 23rd overall for the amount of revenue from all sources, local, state and federal, that support education here. And, when only state sources of revenue for education are considered, the state ranks 12th in the nation.
Clearly, once you consider the obvious fact that Kentucky is not a wealthy state, the funding for education is higher than you would expect.
Especially with major areas of the state’s economy – such as coal and energy in general – now under active attack from Washington, those who want to hit the Kentucky taxpayer for still more funding need to keep this in mind.
Perhaps the best source of credible, “apples to apples” state funding data is the US Census Bureau’s annual report called Public Education Finances. “Public Education Finances: 2010” was just released, and Table 11 in the report shows that Kentucky’s total current spending on education moved up to 38th place in 2010. We were in 39th place in 2009 according to the same numbered table in “Public Education Finances: 2009.”
What is really interesting, however, is to look at how funding for education has changed in Kentucky since the education reform was passed in 1990. This table shows that story.
As you can see, real spending on education has nearly doubled in Kentucky in the past two decades. In terms of dollars out of your tax-paying wallet, you are now paying 342 percent of what you paid in 1990.
That’s a sizable increase in education ‘bucks’ no matter how you look at it.
There’s more bad news for Kentucky’s energy sector in the wake of Big Sandy 2’s decision to not continue its coal-fired operations. This time, the victim of the Environmental Protection Agency’s unpredictable regulations is Arch Coal.
Yesterday, Arch Coal announced 750 layoffs of Appalachian coal workers – and 79% of those will be from our eastern Kentucky coal fields. The St. Louis-based coal company will be closing its facilities in Pike, Marion, and Knott Counties.
Although there are natural economic forces that have contributed to the demise of Arch Coal, the EPA’s war on Appalachia cannot be ignored when discussing these 750 jobs that have been lost. The EPA’s Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) regulations – which managed to escape Congressional annulment yesterday – not only guarantee that no new coal-fired power plants can be established in the future, they also threaten existing plants in the present, as we see today.
As Gov. Beshear put it:
“As unfortunate as this news is, it cannot be said that it was wholly unexpected. Demand for coal is at a 20-year low, thanks to a rapidly shifting energy market and high inventory. Unpredictable federal regulation processes have also hindered legal mining efforts, and we will continue to fight the unfair regulatory changes that effectively delay or halt our mining projects.”
Let’s hope so, for the sake of Appalachia’s economic well-being.
Despite the efforts of Sen. Rand Paul and other federal legislators who continue to fight for state sovereignty over Kentucky’s energy sector, the resolution to halt one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s most devastating new edicts failed yesterday in the Senate.
The resolution would have halted the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) regulations – a real piece of work that virtually guarantees no new coal-fired power plants will be established in – well, anywhere.
Utility MACT also threatens to force the shut-down of existing coal plants and more than 70,000 industry jobs here in Kentucky. One plant that has already given up on its plans to conform to the draconian standards of the environmental zealots at the EPA is Big Sandy 2 near Louisa, KY. That plant had plans to spend nearly $1 billion to alter its facilities for the sake of staying in business in the face of federal threats, but the economics just weren’t there. Big Sandy is likely to shut down its coal-fired facilities this year.
Without the support of federal legislators, it looks like the citizens of Appalachia will have to go it alone to protect their energy sector from federal encroachment.