A Caution on Biennial Budgeting

October 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm

At a recent Senate Budget Committee hearing, several senators expressed support for the idea of implementing a two-year budget cycle, CQ reports.  Proponents claim biennial budgeting will lead to more thoughtful budgeting and improved congressional oversight.

Understandably, many people are frustrated by the difficulties Congress has had in producing a budget in recent years.  But biennial budgeting proposals have been around for years, and our examination of this issue concluded that the disadvantages of biennial budgeting are likely to outweigh the advantages; the analysis we issued explains why.




New Survey Finds States Cutting School Funding

October 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm

The great majority of states have cut per-pupil funding for elementary and secondary schools for the current school year, our new survey of state K-12 budgets finds.  Funding in most states is now below pre-recession levels, after adjusting for inflation.

Most States Have Cut School Funding This YearThe survey covers 46 states (all except Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, and Washington), which are home to 95 percent of the nation’s schoolchildren.  Here are the highlights:

  • Some 37 states have cut funding below last year’s levels, after adjusting for inflation.  Nineteen of them have cut funding by more than 5 percent (see graph).
  • Some 30 states are funding K-12 education at lower levels than they were four years ago, after adjusting for inflation.  Seventeen of them have cut funding by more than 10 percent.
  • The biggest funding cuts compared with four years ago are in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and South Carolina, where they exceed 20 percent.

These cuts have serious economic consequences.  In the short term, they force school districts to take actions that can slow the recovery, like laying off teachers and scaling back purchases of private-sector goods and services.  Schools cut 194,000 jobs between August 2010 and August 2011.

In the long run, the cuts make it more difficult to train the highly educated workforce that this nation will need to thrive in an increasingly global information economy.

With the economy still weak and state revenues still below pre-recession levels, states are likely to continue to face major budget challenges in the coming year.  To avoid digging the education funding hole even deeper, states should take a balanced approach to addressing these challenges  — an approach that includes raising additional revenues.

The federal government can also play a role, as my colleague Michael Leachman points out, by providing extra education aid for states and localities, such as the aid the President proposed in the American Jobs Act to retain and hire teachers and other school workers.

Michigan’s Tighter TANF Time Limits on Hold, for Now

October 5, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Earlier this week I wrote about recent cutbacks in state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs, including a tightening of Michigan’s time limit that ended benefits for nearly 12,000 families.  Since then, a federal judge has temporarily halted the benefit cutoff for these families.  Constitutional requirements grounded in notions of basic fairness — that the state notify families why they are no longer eligible and inform them that they can appeal the cutoff —“were not met or even close to met,” the judge stated.

Unfortunately, benefits will end for many families after the state provides a legally sufficient notice, so the reprieve for these families may only be a few weeks.


State K-12 Funding Cuts Are Deep and Widespread

October 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Thirty of the 46 states for which data are available are spending less per pupil on K-12 education (after inflation) than they did before the recession, according to a report we’ll issue tomorrow.  In 17 of those states, funding is more than 10 percent below the 2008 level, adjusted for inflation; in 4 of the states, funding is off by more than 20 percent (see graph).
School Funding Remains Below 2008 Levels in Most States
We’ll provide more details on the report — which updates this analysis — tomorrow.

LaDonna Pavetti on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal”

October 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm

LaDonna Pavetti appeared on “Washington Journal” yesterday to discuss welfare reform and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

Here’s the clip:

As she noted, state TANF programs responded very unevenly to the large increase in need during the Great Recession:  caseloads rose by 20 percent or more in some states while rising only modestly or even falling in others.  CBPP has prepared state-by-state fact sheets on changes in TANF programs in recent years and is posting new information as it becomes available.

Click a state for its fact sheet.  Click here for methodology and source notes.

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