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New York’s Skyscraping School Spending

Chris Edwards

New York’s state and local governments appear to be incredibly bloated. New York State’s population is 10 percent less than Florida’s, yet governments in New York spend 81 percent more, have more than twice as much debt, and have 32 percent more public employees than governments in Florida.

The Empire State’s bloat is clear in public school spending, based on new data from the US Department of Education. The chart below shows K‑12 spending per pupil for fiscal year 2022. The spending in each state is funded by federal, state, and local taxpayers.

New York spent $29,284 per pupil, which was three times the spending in Utah of $9,496 and Idaho of $9,662, and it was almost twice the US average of $15,591.

Are New York schools better than those in Utah and Idaho? The Nation’s Report Card says that grade eight kids in New York score about the same on writing as kids in Utah and Idaho, but they score worse on math, science, and reading.

New York schools: skyscraping costs for so‐​so results.

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Notes

The school data are for “current” expenditures, as these are the most comparable between states, according to the US Department of Education. “Total” public school expenditures for the nation are 15 percent higher than current expenditures.

Perhaps New York spending is high because NYC is an expensive place to run public schools. But NYC is just 42 percent of the state’s population. By comparison, Virginia’s school spending is below the US average even though expensive Northern Virginia accounts for 37 percent of the state’s population. Also, to the extent that NYC is an expensive place to run schools, that partly stems from the excess bureaucracy and labor unions. I think all New York State’s teachers are covered by collective bargaining, but virtually none were in Virginia until recently.

More on New York’s bloat here and here. More on public school policies from Neal McCluskey here, and a Cato study examining public school rankings here.

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