High-quality and equitable education opportunities, ranging across early childhood, K-12, technical education, higher education and apprenticeships, are pivotal for the economic prospects of working people and their children.  Disparities in education funding and the resulting inequities in the programs and services provided to children and adults of different incomes and races can determine the earning potential for someone’s entire life.  EARN groups analyze how state and local school taxes are raised and how education funding is parceled out, showing the impact of current education policies and suggesting reforms that can improve educational outcomes and economic conditions for working families.


Moving Maine Students to the Head of the Class

This November, Maine voters will consider a ballot initiative (Question 2) that rolls back recent tax breaks for the wealthy and dedicates this revenue toward additional state level resources for schools. The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) examined the context for this initiative, its potential to promote tax fairness, and its capacity to improve educational outcomes and workforce readiness of Maine

Tens of millions of dollars in recent tax breaks compromise state capacity to invest in education. As a result of income tax cuts since 2011 that largely benefit wealthy households, Mainers will lose $297 million in state revenue in 2017 that would have been available for education funding. As the state’s contribution to education has decreased, local costs have increased—an average of $180 million a year. Shortchanging schools at the state level has a wide range of negative consequences for Maine students, businesses, and communities including: widening of the opportunity gap between students in high- and low-income communities; putting education quality at risk; hurting employers who struggle to find workers with skills their businesses need; compromising the fairness of Maine’s tax system; and making it harder for communities to thrive.

Keeping DREAMers Out of College: Missouri Makes a Costly Mistake

Missouri’s appropriations bill for higher education includes instructions that would leave immigrants who have been granted deferred action in the position of having to pay a much higher tuition rate at state colleges. For every student this discourages from going to community college, the student loses $7,000 in potential earnings and the state and local governments lose $630 in potential tax contributions. For those who don’t get a bachelor’s degree, it costs the typical student $21,000 per year in potential earnings, and costs the state and localities $1,890 per year in tax revenues.

Kansas Public Education: The Foundation for Economic Growth

Kansans have long recognized that education is key to economic growth. In 1874, the Territorial Legislature took the first steps to increase school attendance by passing a compulsory school attendance law. The rationale: “education was key to the state’s growth and development, since a literate and skilled citizenry could help build business and industry.” Over 150 years later, as state lawmakers seek to “make the Sunflower State the best place in America to raise a family and grow a business,”2 the link between education, workforce, and economic growth endures. Then as now, investment in public education directly correlates to Kansas’ stake in the national and global economy.

Unfortunately, Kansas struggles to keep pace with the investments necessary to ensure K-12 education remains relevant and responsive to workforce demands. Following a recent series of tax policy changes, the state continues to lose ground as job growth lags and revenue continues to trend downward.

Kansas faces big challenges. We are dealing with recurring budget crises. We are not making strategic and long-term decisions. We are not talking about the investments necessary to fund K-12 education. We are not talking about the opportunity cost of not investing in education. We are not generating enough private sector jobs.

For Kansas to remain competitive, policymakers and the governor must recommit to supporting K-12 public education, a critical part of the workforce development pipeline, with the resources necessary to create the next big economic surge.