The U.S. Census Bureau collects comprehensive financial information about public elementary and secondary school systems, broken down using multiple measures. Their annual report includes table summaries that provide the best apples-to-apples comparisons of education spending across states.
Here is the most recent data available, released this month, for how much each state spends on K-12 education. Our graphic and tables below help give context to these numbers, with comparisons of Washington to other states in our region and nationally. Numbers reflect all revenue sources combined (federal, state and local).
3rd best in the West – Washington ranks third in our region in per pupil spending, outpacing all West Coast neighbors and all but two western continental states.
|State||Per pupil amount|
Because the current enacted budget increases state funding by over $1,200 per pupil from fiscal year 2015 to 2017, Washington’s per pupil expenditure should continue to rise in subsequent Census Bureau reports over the next two years. Overall, Washington ranks 27th out of 50 states.
Washington continues to outpace most states for education spending increases – Washington is one of only eight states to increase education spending by more than five percent in a one-year span. From 2014 to 2015, Washington’s per pupil spending increased by 5.2 percent, trailing only six other states and tied with another. The average increase for all states was 3.5 percent.
|State||Percentage increase in per pupil spending, 2014 to 2015|
Over half of new budget will go towards education – Under both the proposed Senate and House plans being considered right now in the state legislature, schools would see substantial additional investments. The Senate plan would increase K-12 spending by $5.79 billion over the next two budget cycles while the House would invest $5.173 billion over that same time. If these numbers hold, over half of the general budget will be invested in education, a feat not seen since the start of Gov. John Spellman’s term (1981-83).
While the state legislature works to finish the 2017-19 budget, and as the state supreme court looks to figure out whether the legislature has met its constitutional duty to amply fund schools in the ten-year-old McCleary case, this data can help give the rest of us context about the progress Washington has made thus far funding schools.