It seems like every time I log on to the Internet, someone is trying to claim that Kentucky has seen a disastrous decline in state education funding since the recession started in 2008. The latest example is in a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ report about “After Nearly a Decade, School Investments Still Way Down in Some States.” This report claims in its Figure 3 that Kentucky experienced an 8.5 percent decline in inflation-adjusted dollars for state funding for education between 2008 and 2014.
I have questions about that. You see, the Kentucky Department of Education has audited annual financial statements readily available online that show something quite different, at least for funding our school districts receive.
According to Kentucky’s “Receipts and Expenditures 2007-2008” report, the total state revenue to the districts (state only, not local or federal), was $2,863,968,902 in that school year.
The “Revenues and Expenditures 2013-2014” report shows in that more recent year the total state education revenue given to the districts was $3,868,174,888.
I should add that these are audited, final amounts.
Now, according to the very handy Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator, $3,868,174,888 in current 2014 dollars would be worth $3,517,967,940 in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars.
Obviously, $3,517,967,940 inflation-adjusted dollars spent in 2013-14 would equate to about 23 percent MORE real revenue to districts than the $2,863,968,902 state revenue districts actually received in 2007-08 in Kentucky.
I hope to hear from the lead author of the CBPP report about what they examined, because their figures do not agree with the actual total state funding our school districts received. And, if our state funding reports are off as much as the CBPP paper would indicate, we need to know that, too.