New York’s spending on public elementary and secondary education hit a new all-time high of $24,040 per pupil during the 2017-18 school year, topping all other states in the latest U.S. Census annual data.

The Empire State’s public schools spent 91 percent more than the national average of $12,612 per pupil—continuing to widen a spending gap that stood at 67 percent in 2007-08 and 44 percent in 1997-98, as illustrated by the chart below.

screen-shot-2020-05-11-at-12-51-20-pm-9754991

In pushing for emergency federal aid to bail out New York’s tax revenue losses during the pandemic shutdown, Governor Cuomo recently complained: “I don’t have any funding to do what I normally do.” As Congress considers his aid request, some key metrics from the Census Bureau’s 2017-18 school finance data highlight what the Empire State has become accustomed to “normally” doing in the area of education:

  • Following a long-established pattern, school spending in New York in 2017-18 was driven primarily by instructional salaries and benefits—which, at $16,661 per pupil, were 118 percent above the national average of $7,650, the census data show. New York’s spending in this category exceeded the total per-pupil school spending in all but seven other states and the District of Columbia.
  • In the category of “support services,” which measures the bureaucratic overhead of central district and school building administration, New York ranked sixth with spending of $6,883 per pupil. That was 54 percent above the national average. However, if New York had spent the national average in the support category, it still would have ranked first in overall per-pupil spending among states, closely trailing the District of Columbia.
  • New York school spending per pupil grew by 4.1 percent over the previous year. This ranked 13th overall, compared to a national average of 3.4 percent.
  • Relative to personal income, New York’s elementary and secondary education spending of $51.09 per $1,000 ranked second, trailing only Alaska, about 38 percent higher than the national average by this measure.
  • Excluding charter schools, New York’s public elementary and secondary schools had 2.6 million pupils and spent nearly $66 billion in 2018—exceeded only by California, which spent about $79 billion on a public school system with 6.2 million pupils.
  • New York City’s spending of $26,588 per pupil was by far the highest among the nation’s 100 largest school systems.

As shown in the comparative table below, New York also continues to spend considerably more than neighboring northeastern states with similarly powerful public education lobbies and high living costs. On a per-pupil basis, New York’s public school expenditures in 2017-18 were 17 percent higher than New Jersey’s, 20 percent higher than Connecticut’s and 41 percent higher than Massachusetts’.

screen-shot-2020-05-11-at-1-50-56-pm-9302194

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

The Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

140 State Employees Paid $100,000 or More … in Overtime

State agencies paid out a total of $851.4 million in overtime pay in 2020, an $18.7 million increase from 2019. Read More

A Study of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Raises Doubt About New York’s Minimum Staffing Law

A newly published study of COVID-19 in nursing homes links larger numbers of employees to higher rates of infection and death for residents – raising fresh doubts about New York's recently enacted "safe staffing" law. Read More

Health Research Inc. Turns Over its Payroll Records Despite Claiming To Be Exempt from FOIL

The full payroll records of more than 2,400 de facto state employees are available to the public for the first time after being released by Health Research Inc. Read More

Emergency Billions Pose Opportunity—and Risk—for NYS Schools

New York schools are to post publicly today plans for spending a huge pile of unexpected and unbudgeted cash. Read More

Report Reveals Albany’s Balanced Budget a Gimmick

Extending the budget window reveals large, yawning budget gaps growing from nearly $8 billion in 2026 to nearly $20 billion by the end of the decade. Read More

The post-pandemic comeback: how far are we from normal?

Now that the COVID-19 "emergency" is in the rearview mirror, how far is New York's economy from its pre-pandemic normal level? Read More

Remote Threat 

Remote work and a more mobile professional class will increase the speed and scope of New York's ongoing out migration. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!