The Facts About Education Spending

Republicans have increased education budget by $1,748 per student

Democrats continue to advance false narrative that Republicans have cut education spending. It’s just not true.

Raleigh, N.C. — With education again in the spotlight, it’s a good time to revisit the basic facts about education spending in North Carolina under Republican control.

Democrats and their far-left allies repeat the same falsehood over and over. Just yesterday, the far-left N.C. Policy Watch published the false claim that Republicans “slashed public education funding for years and years.”

Here are the hard numbers. These are not “claims” or “arguments” — they’re verifiable, objective truths, and they deserve some attention.

Authorized K-12 Budget
2010–11: $7.283 billion
2011–12: $7.617 billion
2012–13: $7.844 billion
2013–14: $7.920 billion
2014–15: $8.171 billion
2015–16: $8.517 billion
2016–17: $8.777 billion
2017–18: $9.046 billion
2018–19: $9.545 billion
2019–20: $9.755 billion*
Sources: NC budget documents, Fiscal Research Division

Authorized K-12 Budget Per Pupil
2010–11: $5,166
2011–12: $5,373
2012–13: $5,496
2013–14: $5,522
2014–15: $5,700
2015–16: $5,945
2016–17: $6,146
2017–18: $6,360
2018–19: $6,765
2019–20: $6,914*
Sources: NC Dept. of Public Instruction, NC budget documents, Fiscal Research Division

*The 2019–20 K-12 budget would have been higher if Gov. Cooper had not vetoed House Bill 966.

A lot of attention has been paid to the Leandro consultant’s recommendation that cumulative K-12 spending increase by $6.8 billion over the next eight years.

The same exact calculation for the eight-year period 2011–2018 shows that the General Assembly already increased education funding by a cumulative $9.2 billion over that time, using 2010 as a baseline. If that trajectory continues for the next eight years, the General Assembly is on pace to exceed the Leandro recommendation by several billion dollars (source: Fiscal Research Division).

In reporting, if these numbers are reported on at all, these facts fall prey to the biased framing of “Republicans say” or “Republicans claim” — but these are verifiable, objective truths and they deserve to be reported as such.

Education funding in North Carolina has increased by $968 per student in just four years, and $1,748 per student in nine years.

Here are some more figures:

Change in per-pupil funding since 2010: +$1,748 per student (+33.8%)
Change in per-pupil funding since 2015: +$968 per student (+16.3%)
Change in annual K-12 budget since 2010: +$2.5 billion (+33.9%)
Change in annual K-12 budget since 2015: +$1.2 billion (+14.5%)
Cumulative K-12 budget changes since 2010: +$11.6 billion
Cumulative K-12 budget changes since 2015: +$3.1 billion

The official Medium account for N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger’s press office.

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