The Great Recession and its aftermath have had a profound impact on state budgets. States are facing the worst fiscal situation they have seen in at least 70 years. Collectively, in FY 2008 through FY 2012, states made $290 billion worth of cuts, while estimates for cumulative state budget shortfalls in FY 2013 threaten to push up these totals considerably. As a consequence, state and local governments together shed some 726,000 jobs between August 2008 and April 2013.
Given the importance of state investments in education and other essential public goods – and given the crucial role these investments play in a state's long term economic growth and the well-being of its residents – these numbers offer ample reason for concern. If states want to help businesses expand within their borders; want to encourage creation of good jobs leading to strong wage and income growth; want to increase the ability of all of their people to contribute effectively to an economy that fosters broadly shared prosperity, then they need the capacity to offer every child a meaningful opportunity to learn.