Schools brace for budget cuts as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the economy

Maddie Hanna and Kristen A. Graham,:

Budget forecasters have predicted states could take big hits in revenue as a result of the coronavirus slowdown — possibly upward of 15%, said Mike Griffith, senior school finance researcher and policy analyst at the Learning Policy Institute. Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office has projected a revenue shortfall of up to $4 billion this year and next due to declines in income and sales taxes; Gov. Tom Wolf’s spending plan for next year is about $36 billion.

Compared with the recession a decade prior, when education spending by states fell by 8%, the projected losses are “massive,” Griffith said. And unlike the last recession — which took years to unfold — ”it’s happening immediately.”

A 15% cut to state education funding next year with no additional federal stimulus beyond the CARES Act could mean the loss of more than 300,000 teaching jobs nationwide, or 8% of teachers, according to an analysis by Griffith. That’s triple the teachers lost in the last recession, he said.

Freeze property taxes Local governments must consider cuts and furloughs too.