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Teacher Appreciation Day a Reminder of Republican Governors' Disdain For Public Education

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On Teacher Appreciation Day, families and students are reminded of the deep cuts Republican governors have made to education, which have led to teacher layoffs and increased class sizes. What’s worse is that they’ve largely made these cuts to pay for tax cuts and special deals for the wealthiest and well-connected. From Tom Corbett’s $1 billion cut from public schools and universities, to Rick Scott’s thousands of teacher layoffs, to John Kasich’s $250 million cut to Ohio’s colleges and universities, devastating education cuts have defined the tenures of Republican governors across the country.
In contrast, Democratic governors understand that investing in education will grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, build a competitive workforce, and expand economic opportunity to all. In New Hampshire recently, DGA Chair Shumlin discussed the importance of a quality education and committed, skilled teachers.
Here’s the background on the devastating education cuts Republican governors have made to pay for special deals for their pals:
Rick Scott:
2011: Scott Proposed “Deep Cuts To Classroom Spending” To Help Pay For $1.7 Billion Corporate Tax Cut. “Gov. Rick Scott proposed an austere $65.8 billion spending plan Monday that levies deep cuts to classroom spending and privatizes social services in order to afford $1.7 billion in tax cuts for property owners and corporations.” [Sun-Sentinel, 2/7/11]

PolitiFact Florida: 2012-2013 Budget’s Education Funding “Does Not Make Up” For Previous $1.3 Billion In Cuts. “Before we give it away, let’s go back to that $1 billion in new education funding — because it’s a bit of a red herring. The money, which was included in the 2012-13 state budget Scott signed April 17, 2012, does not make up for the $1.3 billion in cuts the Republican Legislature and Scott passed in 2011. (As a matter of fact, Scott originally proposed even larger cuts but was rebuked by Republican lawmakers who found the size of the cuts untenable.)” [PolitiFact Florida, 4/18/12]
Scott Administration Acknowledged Layoffs Would Occur With Cuts. In March 2011 the Tampa Bay Times reported, “even Scott’s budget chief acknowledges layoffs will occur.” [Politifact, Tampa Bay Times, 3/9/11]
Nathan Deal:
Deal Underfunded Georgia School By Over One Billion Dollars. The Associated Press reported, “Georgia schools… would not recoup more than $1 billion in state funding lost over the past few years… Georgia is supposed to use a standardized formula to determine how much funding schools get from the state. In the current fiscal year, Deal and lawmakers opted to give the K-12 education system more than $1.1 billion less than what’s recommended in the formula, according to the state Department of Education.” [Associated Press, 1/15/12]
A Drop from $2.8 Billion to $1.7 Billion. “This fiscal year, the Georgia Legislature agreed to spend about $7.4 billion on k-12 education. The entire state budget was nearly $20 billion. Georgia gets additional money from the federal government and other sources. That figure has declined from about $2.8 billion in fiscal year 2011 to about $1.7 billion in each year since.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution/PolitiFact, 9/5/13]
Deal Signed Off On “Deep Cuts” to Hope Scholarship. “The bill Deal signed into law Tuesday makes deep cuts to HOPE. Only the highest-scoring students those who earn a 3.7 GPA and a 1200 on the SAT as well as the valedictorian and salutatorian at each high school would still receive a full scholarship. Others would receive 90 percent of the current tuition rate. That figure doesn’t take into account an expected double-digit tuition increase. The plan would trim HOPE for students attending private colleges in Georgia from $4,000 to $3,600. Gone is funding for books, fees and remedial classes.” [Associated Press, 3/15/11]
2011 Cuts to Pre-K Resulted in Teachers Leaving “in Droves,” Shortened School Year. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported, “Teachers this year left pre-k programs in droves, moving into elementary school openings to avoid a 10 percent, state-ordered pay cut that just began… The cuts in funding have shortened the pre-k school year by a month, eliminated 190 private and 76 public pre-k classes statewide… Research shows that for every $1 invested in early education, Georgia and other states see a $7 return. And children who attend pre-k are more likely to avoid remedial education, graduate from high school, attend college and get higher-paying jobs… Stephanie Mayfield, a spokeswoman for Gov. Nathan Deal, said the cuts to pre-k were made ‘only out of necessity’… The pay cuts are part of Deal’s plan to reduce pre-k spending by $54 million this year, to $341.7 million,” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/11/11]
2012: Deal Proposed Higher Education Cuts Reflected “Continued Weakness in the State’s Economy.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported of Governor Deal, in 2012, “asking state agencies to find another $553 million in reductions through June 2014. About half of that would come from higher education and from public health — $108 million from the University System of Georgia… The order — marking the fifth consecutive year that the governor’s Office of Planning and Budget has told department heads to come up with additional reductions — reflects continued weakness in the state’s economy and concern that it won’t improve dramatically before 2014.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/3/12]
2013: State School Board Association and Budget Study Found that Deal was “Not Devoting Enough Money Toward Education.” PolitiFact for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, “The Georgia School Boards Association says Deal is not devoting enough money toward education if you factor in inflation. The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report earlier this month that concluded Georgia’s per-student spending will decline by about 1 percent this year once you factor in inflation.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution/PolitiFact, 9/5/13]
State Budget Survey Found that Georgia Still Spends More than $40 Less Per Student than Before the Recession. According to the Center for Budget Polcy and Priorities, Georgia is one of only 15 states where changes in education study have not met pre-recession levels. The Center found that despite increases, Georgia’s current per-student spending is still $47 dollars less in FY 2013 that it was in 2008 when adjusted for inflation. [CBPP, 9/12/13]
Deal Proposed Ending Program to Help Rural Schools. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported “Now Gov. Nathan Deal is proposing to end the $2.6 million, decades old ‘sparsity’ grant program that has provided a financial lifeline to some rural districts. It’s pocket change in a state education budget of about $7 billion, but it’s a fortune for schools that have so little… The grants, mostly in the $100,000 to $200,000 range, amount to 5 percent or more of the annual state funding received by 10 districts around the state… The state Education Department is supposed to conduct a periodic study to ensure that the districts should still be getting the money. But the governor’s budget office found out the reviews haven’t been done in about 20 years. So the governor’s office determined that ‘the need for the sparsity grant program has not been established,’ according to Deal’s budget report.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/10/13]
Rural Schools “Already Struggling.” “While all school districts have taken cuts, rural systems were already struggling. They have slashed their programs to the bare minimum, offering few if any advanced classes, foreign language or other electives. They never had much in the first place, so they had little or no fat to cut when bad times hit. Some of them have had trouble keeping teachers, who are lured away by more money or the chance to escape the remoteness.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/10/13]
Sam Brownback:
In Brownback’s First Year As Governor, Base State Aid To Schools Dropped $125 Million. “Brownback took office in 2011 with an ambitious vision for schools… In his first year in office, base state aid fell from $3,937 to $3,780 per student — a statewide drop of $125 million. The governor disputes that he cut that money, because the previous year Kansas had put $145 million in federal stimulus funds toward base state aid. With that gone, the Legislature increased its appropriation, though it didn’t make up the full difference. Nearly three years after his inauguration, base state aid is $3,838 per pupil — lower than at the height of the recession and well below the pre-recession level of $4,433.” [Topeka Capital-Journal, 11/23/13]
Report: Kansas Per-Pupil Spending Will Have Been Cut By 17 Percent Since Start Of Recession If Brownback Plan Passes. “The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a study claiming the tax cuts, passed in 2012, have hurt state programs, harmed the poor, and haven’t brought promised economic growth to the state… the Center said the Brownback tax cuts, most of which became effective in January 2013, have significantly reduced revenue to the state. As a result, it said, Kansas has had to cut spending for schools and other services. If the governor’s future recommendations are adopted, it said, Kansas will have cut per-pupil spending by 17 percent, adjusted for inflation, since the start of the recession.” [Kansas City Star, 3/27/14]
State Also “Eliminated Almost Half A Billion Dollars In Capital Spending.” “Kansas has faced similar challenges before, and in 2005 it was ordered by the court to provide more for its students. In response, the legislature agreed to budget $4,492 per student by 2010, a level the court deemed adequate, but when the economy tanked, legislators never fulfilled that promise. In 2010, Kansas spent $4,012 per student, and by 2012, as new tax cuts kicked in, the funding fell to $3,780 per pupil. The state also eliminated almost half a billion dollars in capital spending.” [Bloomberg, 3/7/14]
Kansas Supreme Court Ordered Legislature To Increase Education Funding. “Kansas’s highest court ruled on Friday that funding disparities between school districts violated the state’s Constitution and ordered the Legislature to bridge the gap, setting the stage for a messy budget battle in the capital this year. With its ruling, the State Supreme Court averted, for now, a larger constitutional showdown by ordering a lower court to reconsider the most controversial part of the case — whether the public school system statewide was adequately funded… The issue of increasing base aid per student was politically charged because at the same time that lawmakers, led by the Republican governor, Sam Brownback, refused to increase funding, they passed the largest tax cuts in state history.” [New York Times, 3/7/14]
Paul LePage:
December 2012: LePage Ordered $12.6 Million Cut In School Aid. “Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday ordered state agencies to make $35.5 million in temporary cuts to keep the current year’s budget in balance as state revenue collections fall short of earlier projections… In a letter to school officials, Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen said the curtailment will cut $12.58 million from state education aid. In Bangor, for example, that will mean a $271,000 cut from the $16.48 million the city originally was allotted in the state budget. For Portland, that means an $870,000 cut from its aid package of $14.06 million.” [Bangor Daily News, 12/27/12]
January 2013: LePage’s Proposed Budget Flat-Funded Education. “Funding for public schools and higher education will remain flat in the next two years if Gov. Paul LePage’s $6.3 billion biennial budget proposal makes it through the Legislature unscathed, though members of education organizations said they are gearing up to fight many of the budget’s provisions.” [Bangor Daily News, 1/11/13]
Press Herald Editorial: LePage “Showing Himself To Be An Enemy Of Public Education.” “[T]he leading exponent of charter schools in Maine, Gov. LePage, is showing himself to be an enemy of public education. In a pair of free-wheeling news conferences last week, the governor announced, without evidence, that Maine schools are failing because teachers are lying to their students. It wasn’t only teachers the governor blamed, however. He also accused principals, superintendents and school boards of undermining student achievement. If he’d had a third news conference, maybe he would have attacked the janitors and the lunch ladies as well.” [Portland Press Herald Editorial, 1/14/13]
Rick Snyder
Snyder Cut $1 Billion from School Aid. Initial reaction to Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal was generally positive – mostly because Michigan is in better financial shape than it was 12 months ago. But the $14.7 billion education package laid out Thursday relies heavily on incentive-laden funding some say is unfair. And it fails to fully restore funding cuts made last year, when Snyder trimmed more than $1 billion from Michigan’s School Aid Fund.[Detroit News, 2/10/12]
Critics: Education funding is only ‘bare minimum.’ “Initial reaction to Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal was generally positive – mostly because Michigan is in better financial shape than it was 12 months ago. But the $14.7 billion education package laid out Thursday relies heavily on incentive-laden funding some say is unfair. And it fails to fully restore funding cuts made last year, when Snyder trimmed more than $1 billion from Michigan’s School Aid Fund.” [Detroit News, 2/10/12]
Snyder’s Final Budget Cut Universities by 15 Percent. “Critics said the budget makes overly painful cuts to public schools, universities, local governments and key services. School districts saw funding cut by 2.2 percent, which has led to widespread teacher layoffs. Universities saw their state funding cut 15 percent, and local governments will see about $100 million less.” [Detroit News, 6/21/11; Associated Press, 6/22/11]
Education Cuts Lead to Teacher Layoffs and Larger Class Sizes. “Teacher Jennifer Bonutti also found Snyder’s proposed increase inadequate. Her son is a first-grader in Farmington, northwest of Detroit. Cutbacks there have meant teacher layoffs and at least 25 students in her son’s classroom, while fourth-grade classrooms often have 35.” [Associated Press, 2/9/12]
“State cuts force teachers to look elsewhere.” “Less than six months after she graduated, budget cuts enacted by the Republican-led Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder slashed funding for education — forcing teacher layoffs in more than one-third of school districts countywide.” [, 8/25/11]
Larger Class Sizes in Public Schools in Jackson Due to Budget Cuts. “Parents and students at many area public schools can expect larger class sizes when a new year of classes begins Tuesday…In some cases, students will experience longer walks to the bus stop and a reduction in sports offerings or pay-to-play requirements. There will even be fewer schools with the closing of Columbia’s Miller Elementary School and Jackson Arts and Technology Academy. Most of the changes are the result of declining state aid for public schools at the same time that retirement and fringe benefits costs are rising and as enrollment is dropping in many districts. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled Legislature have overhauled the state’s K-12 public education system with a combination of cuts and new state requirements…Class sizes could be up by one or two additional students at the elementary level, Graham said, and high school math classes could increase from 19 to 22, 23 or 24 because a math teacher position was eliminated.” [, 9/3/11]
2011-2012: Michigan Had 4th Highest Students Per Teacher Average in K-12 Schools. According to the National Education Association, Michigan had the 4th highest students in average daily attendance per teacher in K-12 schools from 2011-2012. [National Education Association, Rankings of the States, December 2012]
John Kasich:
2011: Kasich Cut School Funding By $800 Million. “As Ohio gains a new biennium budget, the state’s school districts are preparing for a new reality, one that involves about $800 million less in funding for public schools.School districts that already slashed their budgets, laid off teachers, and froze salaries are weighing whether to ask local voters to raise taxes this November. The new budget, they say, merely pushes more of the burden down to local taxpayers.” [Cincinnati Inquirer, 7/4/11]
College and University Funding Cut by $250 Million. School districts will see $700 million cut from the funding of kindergarten-through-12th-grade education, and colleges and universities will receive $250 million less over two years. [Columbus Dispatch, Editorial, 6/30/11]
Small Towns Forced To Charge Students For Extracurricular Activities. The Los Angeles Times reported on March 4, 2012 that, “many [school districts] are scrambling to come up with cash by selling space for cellphone towers and charging students to participate in extracurricular activities. The cuts came at the same time federal stimulus funding for schools ran out, dealing a double whammy for many communities.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/4/12]
“Sweeping Cuts” Triggered “Teacher Layoffs, Reductions In Academic Programs.” The Columbus Dispatch reported on March 8, 2012 that, “In Westerville and other parts of the state, voters opened their wallets in the wake of sweeping cuts in state aid to schools last year, which triggered teacher layoffs and reductions in academic programs, transportation services and extracurricular activities. Gov. John Kasich — who has said that voters should hold on to their money and school districts should rein in spending by sharing services and finding other cost savings — said yesterday that voters get the final say.” [Columbus Dispatch, 3/6/12]
Cleveland Schools Forced To Lay Off Over 500 Teachers. “The Cleveland school board voted Tuesday to trim about a sixth of its teaching staff in the upcoming school year because of budget troubles and a falling number of students. The district will also shorten its school day through eighth grade by 50 minutes next school year and cut the number of music, art, library and gym classes for those students as part of the shuffling of staff to handle the layoffs. The layoff of more than 500 teachers –most in kindergarten through eighth grade — is a major part of district Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon’s plan to resolve a $65 million budget deficit for next school year.” [Plain Dealer, 4/17/12]
Tom Corbett:
Corbett’s First Two Budgets Cut More Than $1 Billion from Public Schools and Universities. According to a statement in April 2013 by Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Sharon Ward, the “last two state budgets cut more than a billion dollars for public schools and universities. Infrastructure investments have been delayed, and county human services funding has been slashed. Classrooms are more crowded…and local taxes are higher. There is more harm to come. Hidden deep within Gov. Tom Corbett’s…budget plan [proposed in 2013] are major income tax cuts for corporations beginning in 2015 that, when fully phased in, will cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Profitable corporations will pay less, hardworking families will pay more, and our schools and communities will deteriorate.” [Patriot News, 04/16/13]
Corbett Cut Education Funding by $900 Million. “Reduction of approximately $900 million, more than 10%, in funding for instruction, accountability grants, special education, teacher training, student tutoring aid, charter school reimbursements and more for public schools.” [Times-Tribune, 7/1/11]
Corbett Cut University Funding by $220 Million. “Reduction of approximately $220 million, almost 20%, in funding for 14 state-owned universities plus Pitt, Temple, Penn State and Lincoln.” [Times-Tribune, 7/1/11]
Corbett Has Not Fully Restored Cuts. “Mr. Corbett’s 2011-12 budget cut almost $1 billion from education, and those cuts were not restored for 2012-13. His administration claims he did not cut funding because former Gov. Ed Rendell chose to use federal stimulus dollars for education, and when stimulus money ran out, so did the education funding. The overall decrease in funding caused larger class sizes, cuts to programs and layoffs of staff in…schools,” yet in July 2013 “the governor’s office touted record-high funding for education, including $5.52 billion for basic education, the largest line item distributed to the state’s 500 school districts. The funding is a $122.5 million increase over last year.” …This “hike in basic education funding…[was] the first increase in two years but not enough to offset heavy cuts in education aid during the first year of the Corbett administration as federal stimulus money ended.” [The Scranton Times-Tribune, 07/02/13; The Scranton Times-Tribune, 02/05/13]
Corbett’s Cuts to Education Resulted in Increased Class Sizes Across the State. Corbett’s 2011 “state budget state budget provided nearly $900 million less in funding for public schools…” “The reduction in state funds came at a time when many local districts already were seeing a drop in their local tax revenues because of the poor economy. The result was a significant number of teacher and support staff furloughs, program reductions and eliminations, and increases in class sizes across the state. Some districts started to charge fees to students who participate in extracurricular activities.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/29/11]
Cuts Lead to 10,000 Layoffs and a 7.5 Percent Tuition Increase for State College Students. “The nearly $27.2 billion budget represents the biggest state budget rollback since the Great Depression. Gov. Tom Corbett singled out education for his biggest cuts – slashing more than $900 million from K-12 education funding and cutting funding to state-owned universities by 18 percent. The cuts have resulted in more than 10,000 teacher and staff layoffs and 7.5 percent increases in tuition for state college students as well as a 50 percent increase in technology fees for the coming year.” [Intelligencer Journal/New Era, 7/5/11]
20,000 Public School Positions Eliminated Under Corbett’s Administration. “By focusing on private-sector job growth, the ad leaves out public-sector job cuts, which include the elimination of about 20,000 public-school positions under Corbett’s administration.” “Critics argue that the cuts in state funding forced school districts to shed 20,000 jobs, partly canceling out growth in other areas, including the expansion of natural gas drilling which added 35,000 jobs.” [Allentown Morning Call, 7/20/13; The Sharon Herald, 2/15/13]
“Nearly 70 percent of Pa. school districts increased class sizes, survey shows.” “The survey released this week by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials is based on responses from 294 of the 500 school districts. The survey blames the cutbacks on the nearly $1 billion reduction in state aid, as well as the expiration of temporary federal funds. It says more than 5,100 school employees, including more than 1,600 teachers, were laid off. Seventy percent of districts increased average class sizes, and nearly half reduced courses in foreign languages, music and other elective courses.” [Associated Press, 9/16/11]
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Criticized Corbett for Adding Money to Rainy-Day Fund While Cutting Education. “How Mr. Corbett and other Republican leaders can sock…[a surplus in] the bank while their budget triggers layoffs, tuition hikes and property tax increases shocks the conscience. No wonder they lack the words to explain why a half-billion dollars should be held in reserve while Pennsylvanians suffer.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/11/11]
Scott Walker:
2013: Scott Walker’s Proposed Budget Would Have Cut Public School Funding To Pay For Tax Cuts. “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed a nearly $70 billion biennial budget on Wednesday that combines income tax cuts with increased spending on transportation infrastructure and private education. Walker, a first-term Republican facing re-election next year, said he would offset the tax cuts and spending increases contained in his 2013-2015 budget by redirecting some funds away from public schools and healthcare, freezing aid to local governments and selling off state assets such as power plants.” [Reuters, 2/20/13]
Associated Press Headline: “Wis. Gov. Signs Budget Cutting Education $1.85B.” “Democrats assailed the budget as an attack on middle class values since it cuts funding for public schools by $800 million, reduces funding to the UW system by $250 million and cuts tax credits for poor people. It also reduces the amount schools can collect from property taxes and other revenue combined, which translates into another education cut of about $800 million. While schools are seeing deep cuts, Walker’s budget extends tax breaks to manufacturers, multistate corporations and investors.” [Associated Press, 6/26/11]
Associated Press: “If You’re a University of Wisconsin Student, Start Saving Your Pennies.” “If you’re a University of Wisconsin student, start saving your pennies. The budget allows the UW Board of Regents to increase tuition by up to 5.5 percent beginning with the fall semester.” [Associated Press, 7/1/11]
Eliminated College Aid Program for Middle School Students Who Receive Good Grades and Clean Record. “If you’re a middle school student who dreams of attending a public university in Wisconsin, things just got harder. A budget provisions ends the Wisconsin Covenant on Sept. 30. The covenant promises college financial aid to middle school students who promise to stay out of trouble and earn decent grades. Anyone who signs up before Sept. 30 could still participate, but after that, no more.” [Associated Press, 7/1/11]