Home Issues Book Reviews Blog Resources Contact Us
California pays more yet has high class size


You've probably heard the numbers. (1) California has a higher average class size than other states, and spends less per pupil. (2) You may have also heard California has the highest teacher salaries and pays more per capita on education than other states. Both (1) and (2) are true, and you are probably wondering how that can be. The answer is that California has more children per capita than other states. Thus, the state has a higher ratio of kids to taxpayers than other states. Also, due to the higher cost of living, things just cost more in California.

K-12 Education is about 40% of the California state budget, with higher education being about 10%, for a total of 50% of the budget. The next highest categories are health services (including MediCaid) at 20%, criminal justice (including prisons) at 13% and social services at 9%.

California used to fund schools primarily from local property taxes before Proposition 13. After that, most funding comes from the State, along with state control. This is the reverse of most other states. The states revenues depend on sales taxes, income taxes and capital gains taxes (stock). Thus, the amount of revenue varies dramatically with the economy. Reasonable efforts to modify Proposition 13 to exclude corporate landowners and high income homeowners from its limits have gone nowhere.


Return to Schools