WISTAX Study: State K-12 Spending Per-Pupil Approaching National Average

A recent analysis of U.S. Census data by the non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) finds that K-12 spending per pupil in Wisconsin, once well above the national average, has dropped to just slightly above the national average.

WISTAX found that in 2001-02, Wisconsin spent about 11.3 percent more per pupil than the U.S. average; however, in 2013-14, per pupil spending in Wisconsin was only 1.6 percent more than the national average.

While a tightening in state-mandated revenue limits in recent years is a factor in that drop, according the WISTAX study, a significant difference in those figures is due to employee benefits, which are o longer required to be collectively bargained as a result of Act 10.

Back in 2001-02, Wisconsin spent about 57 percent more than the national average on employee benefits; however, with Act 10 in place that gap has narrowed to 11.6 percent in 2013-14, the last year for which comparative figures are available.

With state-imposed revenue limits on schools essentially “frozen” last year, per pupil spending increases have undoubtedly slowed.  If current trends continue, Wisconsin’s per pupil school spending could drop below the national average as other states have allowed larger increases in school spending.

While whether this is a good or bad depends on your point of view, it is a significant change no matter how you look at it.