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Oklahoma again No. 1 in the nation for funding cuts to common education
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Oklahoma again No. 1 in the nation for funding cuts to common education

Report highlights impact of state’s income tax cuts

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Oklahoma’s state funding cuts to common education once again lead the nation, as has been the case for the good part of the past decade.

The state leads in inflation-adjusted cuts to state common education funding per student since 2008 for the fourth straight year, according to a comparison from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities works at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income individuals and families.

Since before the Great Recession, the primary source of state funding for Oklahoma schools has declined 28.2 percent per student. The next closest state is Texas with a 16.2 percent decline.

Like Oklahoma, Texas also has an economy that is closely tied to the energy sector, which the report’s authors noted had an effect on education spending.

“State revenues have been hurt this year ... by a variety of factors, including falling oil prices, delayed sales of capital, and sluggish sales tax growth,” authors wrote. “Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia, for example, have been hurt by declines in prices for oil and other natural resources.”

Oklahoma also belonged to a group of states that have cut the most education funding while also slashing income taxes.

The CBPP report highlighted the impact of the state’s recent income tax cut that took effect in early 2016. That cut has meant less revenue for the state at a time when the economy was also struggling.

“Seven of the 12 states with the biggest cuts in general school funding since 2008 — Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Oklahoma — also have cut income tax rates in recent years,” the report said.

Oklahoma is also among the seven states that have seen total funding for common education decline more than 15 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. The other states are Texas, Georgia, Idaho, Alabama, Florida and Arizona.

While Oklahoma continued to top the list in cuts to state funding per pupil, most U.S. states — 29 of 50 — have seen their inflation-adjusted spending decline since the Great Recession, the report said.

Samuel Hardiman 918-581-8466

sam.hardiman@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @samhardiman

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