Arizona has cut per-student funding by 21.8 percent since 2008, making it the state with the deepest cuts in the country, says a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The research and policy think-tank says Arizona spends almost $800 less per student than it did in 2008.
In 35 states, elementary and high schools are receiving less state funding this year than they did four years ago, according to the report. Alabama and Oklahoma also cut per-student funding by more than 20 percent, while North Dakota increased funding by 28 percent, the report shows.
“Arizona unfortunately has the dubious distinction of being first in the nation with cuts to K-12 education, double the national average and double the average for other Western states,” says Ann-Eve Pedersen, president of the Arizona Education Parent Network. “What’s even more troubling is that Arizona already isn’t spending much in education.”
Pedersen co-chairs the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative, the driving force behind Proposition 204. That proposition will ask voters in November to make permanent a one-cent-sales tax, with most of the proceeds going to education.
As state revenues have improved nationwide in the last year, funding cuts have slowed. This academic year the report says Arizona increased per student funding 0.2 percent.
Arizona finished 2011-12 with a surplus of about $400 million, plus a $450 million rainy day fund created by the Legislature.