A new study from polling site FiveThirtyEight and the U.S. Census Bureau has confirmed what state democrats say they already know—despite increased talk about education in the state, funding is dwindling.
Around the nation, state funding for schools has struggled to keep up with a reduction in the federal government aid that was extended to states during the recession. The study indicates Utah saw some of the deepest cuts to per-pupil spending in the nation during the recession.
Utah Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon said the reduction to state funding began before the financial crisis.
“I think the study exposes some of the, frankly, lies that we’ve heard about education being the number one priority,” Corroon said.
Per-pupil spending in Utah is the lowest in the nation. Spending per-pupil is $6,200 per year, $13,000 less than the highest-spending states.
“Utah continues to fall behind the rest of the nation and in order to have a strong economy and in order to have families that can do well in our state we need to have a strong education system,” Corroon said.
Corroon said he hopes Utah lawmakers re-prioritize education spending, calling Gov. Herbert’s education plan a lot of talk and not a lot of action.
Utah spends over $21,000 more per-year, per-person on inmates in the prison and jail system than on pupils. Corroon calls these numbers “backwards.”
“One of the things you’ll see in the jail and prison system is that most of those people do not even have a high school education,” Corroon said. “High school education is critical to not only our economy, but to curing a lot of the social ills that we have in the state.”
According to 2012 U.S. Census Bureau data, public education revenue across the nation decreased for the first time since 1977.