"Despite Gov. John Hickenlooper's proposing a $332 million net reduction next year in total spending for public schools — the largest-ever cut to districts in dollar terms — when it comes to deep cuts to K-12 spending, Colorado is not alone. Not even close.
"It's bad all over," said Mike Griffith, senior policy analyst for the Education Commission of the States, a Denver-based organization that advises states on education policy...
The reasons are pretty much the same in every state: Flagging tax revenues combined with the loss of temporary federal stimulus dollars and ever-increasing costs for education have resulted in 2011-12 being the "cliff" year for many states.
"While state revenues are starting to pick up, the growth is unlikely to be sufficient to replace expiring American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds or cover projected increases in program areas such as Medicaid and K-12 education," according to a December analysis of states' budget troubles released by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"Because teacher salaries and benefits make up 65 percent of total education spending, it's tough to make large cuts without impacting teacher salaries and benefits one way or the other," he said. "Some of this stuff had been talked about for years, but a lot of it is moving forward because of the down times in the budget."