Sun Commentary Calls for Better Education Funding Reporting

A January 19 Baltimore Sun commentary calls for more transparency in Maryland’s public education expenditures.

According to an analysis of data from the Annual Survey of State Government Finances from the U.S. Census Bureau, all education spending accounted for 47 percent of Maryland’s total revenue in 2009, the most recent year available. Health spending, which is always cited as the monster in the state budget, ate 9 percent of total revenue in 2009. By comparison, public education represented 26 percent of total revenue in 2000.  …

As Kil Huh, director of research at the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States said, “There are way too many ‘other’ categories in state finances.” He spoke at a policy forum on K-12 education at Washington’s free market Cato Institute on Jan. 11.

Dumping school spending into “other” on balance sheets and decoding what portion of capital spending should be assigned to education can take days or months to decipher, he said. In a March 2010 policy paper, Cato’s Adam Schaeffer found that per-pupil spending in the nation’s five largest metro areas and Washington, D.C., was 44 percent higher than officially reported because debt service, employee benefits and capital costs were not included in official per-pupil spending figures.  …

It also means legislators are likely shortchanging other parts of the budget. The spending that is available to scrutinize shows it is already happening. As Harford County Executive David Craig wrote in November testimony for the Maryland Association of Counties, financial requirements resulting from the state’s education laws have “forced most counties to slash funding for other important services well below prior funding levels, while education funding has essentially been held harmless. To accommodate these reductions, counties have drawn down rainy day and reserve funds, laid off employees, eliminated thousands of additional positions and implemented furlough and pay reductions.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: