Fact Sheet

California’s Spending Per Student Has Increased Due to Proposition 30, but Still Trails the Rest of the US

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Spending on K-12 schools is one of the most critical public investments we make. California voters’ approval of Proposition 30 in November 2012 has provided more dollars for the state to support schools and helped the state gain on the rest of the US in K-12 spending per student.

  • In 2012-13, the gap between California’s spending per student and the rest of the US had grown to its widest point. The drop in state revenue due to the Great Recession led to dramatic cuts to state spending on K-12 schools. As a result, the gap between California spending per K-12 student and the rest of the US grew to more than $2,600, the widest in at least 45 years, even after adjusting for inflation.
  • California’s spending per K-12 student has increased relative to the rest of the US since voters passed Prop. 30. California spent an estimated $2,000 more per K-12 student in 2015-16 than in 2012-13, inflation-adjusted. Largely as a result, the gap in spending per student between California and the rest of the US narrowed from more than $2,600 in 2012-13 to roughly $1,000 in 2015-16 (see chart).
  • Voter approval of Prop. 55 in November would extend a key component of Prop. 30 and provide significant funding for schools. Prop. 30 boosted state revenues by raising the state sales tax rate by one-quarter cent through 2016 and personal income tax rates for very high-income Californians through 2018. Prop. 30 revenues will decline starting in the current fiscal year (2016-17) as the measure’s tax rate increases begin to expire. Voter approval of Prop. 55, which appears on the November 8, 2016 statewide ballot, would extend Prop. 30’s personal income tax rates on the wealthiest Californians, thereby maintaining a revenue source that has helped narrow the gap between California spending per K-12 student and the rest of the US.