N&O fact check: Education spending

FROM STAFF REPORTSMarch 20, 2012 

Press conference: Held Monday by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue at the state Capitol

Claim: “This is the facts. You all know the facts. There are fewer dollars in the public school system today than there’s ever been.”

Context: Perdue is countering the Americans for Prosperity ad on education spending.

What the record shows: Total spending on K-12 that includes state, federal and local money has not been calculated and won’t be available until the school year ends. Last year’s total was $11.9 billion. But “ever” is a long time, and you don’t have to go back too far to find years when total school spending was below $9 million. Total spending in the 2001-2002 budget was $8.5 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that’s like spending $10.8 billion in 2011.

Clarification: A spokesman for Perdue said she was referring to state spending on education as a percentage of the budget in the 2011-13 cycle.

This year, the state is spending 37.9 percent of its budget on K-12 schools. It was lower last year, at 37.4 percent, and in 2008-09, at 37.7 percent. Next year, K-12 spending is at 37.3 percent of the total, which is the lowest percentage going back to at least 1969-70.

Education spending as a percentage of the total budget has been declining fairly steadily for decades. In 1969-70, the state spent 52.5 percent of its budget on K-12 schools.

Ruling: Perdue’s claim from her news conference is false. However, the clarification provided by her staff is partly true. Next year’s budgeted K-12 spending, as a percentage of the budget, would be the lowest in 40 years and perhaps the lowest in modern N.C. history.

Press conference: Held Monday by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue at the state Capitol

Claim: “This is the facts. You all know the facts. There are fewer dollars in the public school system today than there’s ever been.”

Context: Perdue is countering the Americans for Prosperity ad on education spending.

What the record shows: Total spending on K-12 that includes state, federal and local money has not been calculated and won’t be available until the school year ends. Last year’s total was $11.9 million. But “ever” is a long time, and you don’t have to go back too far to find years when total school spending was below $9 million. Total spending in the 2001-2002 budget was $8.5 million. Adjusted for inflation, that’s like spending $10.8 million in 2011.

Clarification: A spokesman for Perdue said she was referring to state spending on education as a percentage of the budget in the 2011-13 cycle.

This year, the state is spending 37.9 percent of its budget on K-12 schools. It was lower last year, at 37.4 percent, and in 2008-09, at 37.7 percent. Next year, K-12 spending is at 37.3 percent of the total, which is the lowest percentage going back to at least 1969-70.

Education spending as a percentage of the total budget has been declining fairly steadily for decades. In 1969-70, the state spent 52.5 percent of its budget on K-12 schools.

Ruling: Perdue’s claim from her news conference is false. However, the clarification provided by her staff is partly true. Next year’s budgeted K-12 spending, as a percentage of the budget, would be the lowest in 40 years and perhaps the lowest in modern N.C. history.

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