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Nearly Two Dozen States Have Approved Cuts to K-12

At least 23 states have approved cuts to K-12 education for the coming year, reductions that will shrink or eliminate a broad array of school programs and services, particularly those serving the neediest communities, a report says.

Those estimates, recently tallied by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, offer one of the clearest looks to date at the continuing toll being exacted on schools in the lingering shadow of the deep recession.

The budget cuts will result in the scaling back of Advanced Placement and pre-kindergarten programs, guidance counseling, tutoring, and school-readiness programs for disadvantaged children, among other areas, the authors note.

All told, the combined cuts that states are making to K-12 schools, higher education, health care and other services will have a deeper impact in fiscal 2012 than during any year since the recession began, in 2007, according to the center. (In most states, the fiscal 2012 year began last month.)

"In many cases, these cuts undermine school finance systems that are intended to reduce disparities between high-wealth and low-wealth school districts," the authors of the report explain, "so the largest impacts may be felt in communities that are least able to compensate for the loss of funds from their own resources."

State revenues shrunk severely during the "Great Recession," which lasted from December 2007 to June of 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. But the center, a Washington think tank which advocates for low- and middle-income Americans, argues that many of the cuts to state government are larger than necessary, will slow the nation's economic recovery, and undermine job creation.

The report's authors also contend that states have failed to take steps to balance budgets without cuts, such as raising taxes or dipping into reserve funds. And some states have gone further, by cutting taxes and shrinking the available pool of revenue for education and other areas of government—an approach the authors argue "will likely to more harm than good."

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