A new report from the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has revealed that Iowa students are among the few in the nation who have received a hike in public funding since the 2008 recession. In fact, state funding for students from kindergarten to grade 12 increased by 20.6% in Iowa from 2008 to 2015.
This is in direct contrast with prevailing trends of deep cuts and slashed education budgets in most states. After the recession in 2008, many states severely limited funding for primary and secondary education due to decreased tax revenue. States like Arizona, Florida and Alabama were hardest hit, with state funding per student dropping more than 35% in Arizona over seven years. In many states, local funding has gradually crept back up to pre-recession levels, but state funding remains low in many areas of the country.
Iowa’s increase in educational funding has helped cushion the impact of cuts that other states have experienced. However, while Iowa has not seen the deep cuts in school funding like other states, it has still been affected in less obvious ways. For example, despite adding on more than a million new students in 2017, Iowa’s pool of teachers and other educational workers declined by more than 100,000 during the same period. This has led to more staff shortages and increased class sizes in Iowa schools.
The Iowa General Assembly has continued to back education funding, increasing school funding by $40 million this year alone. This hike was made possible by local property taxes which have earned more than $50 million more this year than they did last year. If this trend continues, it will help Iowa’s school system maintain its position as one of the best in the country. Currently, U.S. News & World Report ranks Iowa eighth on its list of best states for education.