Curtis Shelton | May 21, 2019
In education funding, appropriations don’t tell the whole story
With a budget agreement officially announced, common education is set to receive $157.5 million in additional appropriated funding for the upcoming fiscal year. This $157.5 million is coming after the $465 million in increased appropriations from last year’s legislative session. The bulk of this increased spending has been for increased teacher pay, with an overall pay raise of $7,320 per teacher (on average) over the last two years.
Some argue that this increased funding simply puts Oklahoma back to where it was in 2008. They point to the fact that Oklahoma’s appropriation to common education has remained flat for much of the last decade at around $2.5 billion. However, this fails to consider the total education budget—which includes much more than just appropriations.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s revenue report, non-appropriated revenue has accounted for more than 64 percent of new education revenue every year since fiscal year 2006. Over that time, non-appropriated revenue has grown from $3.4 billion to $4.1 billion when adjusted for inflation. So, while state appropriations have remained relatively flat, other sources of revenue have grown. These revenue sources include district and county funds, mainly derived from property taxes, as well as federal funds.
Non-appropriated revenue peaked in 2011 at $4.1 billion, primarily due to an influx of federal stimulus money which was meant to help states which were struggling through the recession. In 2011 federal revenue sources were $1.1 billion when adjusted for inflation, a 37 percent increase from 2006. Since then federal revenues have dropped to $694 million, a 38 percent decrease. As federal revenues have fallen since 2011, local funding has steadily increased. Between 2006 and 2018 local revenue sources have grown 36 percent from just over $2 billion to $2.85 billion.
As the data show, appropriations don’t paint the whole picture. Focusing only on appropriations is like the owner of a local sporting goods store only focusing on how many basketball shoes he sold over the last quarter, all the while ignoring the fact it was baseball season and the store sold more gloves and bats then it ever had before. When it comes to budgeting it’s important to look at the whole picture.
Policy Research Fellow
Curtis Shelton currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on fiscal policy. Curtis graduated Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Previously, he served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time as a staff accountant for Sutherland Global Services.