NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fixing State and Local Budget Deficits

October 27, 2003

There would be no budget crisis were public schools operating with the same efficiency as private schools, says Lewis Andrews, executive director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, in Hartford, Conn.

According to Andrews:

  • Per pupil spending in religious and independent schools averages $4,600, versus $6,857 in public schools.
  • Some 40 percent of per pupil spending in California goes to bureaucracy and only half of the people on the District of Columbia public school payroll are teachers.
  • In some public school districts annual per pupil costs run five to ten times the cost of a local parochial school.
  • In Arizona, a modest income tax credit to people who contribute to scholarship funds for private schooling has enabled more than 18,000 students to attend nonpublic schools.
  • The Arizona's Goldwater Institute has calculated that a tax credit sufficient to induce businesses to fund 20,000 new scholarships at private schools would produce a net annual saving to taxpayers of at least $50 million.
  • Instead of borrowing money to fund expensive new school construction, simply offering a sufficient number of private school scholarships to keep the public school headcount constant can save over $90 million dollars over 20 years.

The design of public education has for so long put the convenience of administrators and teachers above the needs of students. Changing the methods for funding of public education can put more of the emphasis back on the student, he says.

Source: Lewis Andrews, "Magic Bullet: Here's a Long-term Way to Fix State and Local Budget Deficits," American Enterprise, October/November 2003.


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