February 9, 2023

Fortifying Funding: How States Can Strengthen Education Finance Systems for the Future

By Krista Kaput | Bonnie O'Keefe

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States face a daunting set of challenges as they plan for the future of their education finance systems: declining enrollment, high inflation, a potential economic recession, and the end of federal COVID-19 relief funding. As leaders prepare to weather these coming storms, they can find valuable lessons in the recent past.

In a new release, Fortifying Funding: How States Can Strengthen Education Finance Systems for the Future, Bellwether identifies four key insights about state education finance gleaned from the Great Recession and the COVID-19 Recession: 

  • Education finance is contingent on the larger economy
  • State education funding cuts hit districts serving high-need students the hardest
  • Enrollment losses affect states and districts differently
  • Federal government intervention can lessen the impact of economic shocks

We offer specific actions state policymakers can take to address each of these trends, beginning with steps to shore up existing finances and building to plans for any future federal emergency aid.

Amid the current economic uncertainty, state leaders have an opportunity — and a responsibility — to take action that ensures schools and students will have equitable access to the resources they need whenever the next crisis comes. 

To examine local, state, and federal education revenue and student enrollment trends over time in your state and nationally, visit Bellwether’s interactive tool.

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