The States Ranked by Spending on School Choice Programs, 2021 Edition - EdChoice

The States Ranked by Spending on School Choice Programs, 2021 Edition

We’re used to people freaking out whenever states consider creating private educational choice programs. The common refrain goes, “But it will drain money from our already underfunded public schools. It will break our budgets!” There are a lot of problems with the ethos and the pathos of that response worth digging into another day, but on its face, the data doesn’t back it up.

How much do states actually spend on private school choice programs, and how much is that in the context of total public education spending? This post breaks it down for you and ranks the states from highest spending share to lowest.

(For added context, see the national chart in this year’s edition of The ABCs of School Choice (also visible below), and for a refresher on how the calculations are made, see the inaugural spending share post from 2017.)

 

chart showing spending on school choice programs 2021

 

This year, calculations use state public expenditure data from NCES for FY18. I included the ranking from last year in parentheses to denote any year-over-year differences. Amounts are based on most recently available data. This year we added calculations using total expenditures since that is now what we use to calculate percent of per pupil spending. As stated in the chart above, total expenditures include all current expenditures plus capital outlay, interest payments on debts and programs outside of public elementary/secondary education, such as adult education and community services.

If you’ve read this now-annual post in the past, you know that educational choice spending is just a tiny drop in each state’s giant bucket of funds they spend on K–12 education.

Even Florida’s educational choice spending of more than $1.1 billion dollars is less than 4 percent of the state’s combined program and public K–12 spending (current expenditures or total expenditures).

So for the fifth year in a row—here are how the states rank based on how much they spend on private educational choice programs.

 

1. Florida (1)
ESA, Voucher (2), Tax-Credit Scholarships (2) | $1,146.0 million | 3.66% of Florida’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 3.25% of Florida’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

2. Wisconsin (3)
Vouchers (4) | $378.3 million | 3.49% of Wisconsin’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 2.89% of Wisconsin’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

3. Arizona (2)
ESA, Tax-Credit Scholarships (4) | $286.9 million | 3.03% of Arizona’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 2.56% of Arizona’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

4. Vermont (4)
Voucher | $53.7 million | 2.94% of Vermont’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 2.79% of Vermont’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

5. Maine (5)
Voucher | $51.3 million | 1.85% of Maine’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 1.71% of Maine’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

6. Indiana (6)
Voucher, Tax-Credit Scholarship | $195.6 million | 1.82% of Indiana’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 1.58% of Indiana’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

7. Ohio (7)
Vouchers (5) | $404.7 million | 1.81% of Ohio’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 1.59% of Ohio’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

8. District of Columbia (8)
Voucher | $16.8 million | 0.82% of D.C.’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.64% of D.C.’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

9. Louisiana (9)
Vouchers (2), Tax-Credit Scholarship | $47.9 million | 0.57% of Louisiana’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.53% of Louisiana’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

10. Georgia (10)
Voucher, Tax-Credit Scholarship | $107.8 million | 0.56% of Georgia’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.50% of Georgia’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

11. North Carolina (11)
ESA, Vouchers (2) | $73.2 million | 0.51% of North Carolina’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.44% of North Carolina’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

12. Alabama (13)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | $35.9 million | 0.49% of Alabama’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.44% of Alabama’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

13. Pennsylvania (12)
Tax-Credit Scholarships (2) | $127.6 million | 0.45% of Pennsylvania’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.40% of Pennsylvania’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

14. Iowa (14)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | $17.6 million | 0.29% of Iowa’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.25% of Iowa’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

15. Oklahoma (16)
Voucher, Tax-Credit Scholarship | $11.2 million | 0.20% of Oklahoma’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.17% of Oklahoma’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

16. Illinois (17)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | $53.0 million | 0.17% of Illinois’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.15% of Illinois’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

17. Nevada (15)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | $6.8 million | 0.16% of Nevada’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.13% of Nevada’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

18. South Dakota (27)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | $1.7 million | 0.12% of South Dakota’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.10% of South Dakota’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

19. Utah (18)
Voucher, Tax-Credit Scholarship | $5.9 million | 0.12% of Utah’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.09% of Utah’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

20. Mississippi (20)
ESA, Vouchers (2) | $3.9 million | 0.09% of Mississippi’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.08% of Mississippi’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

21. Virginia (21)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | $14.0 million | 0.09% of Virginia’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.08% of Virginia’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

22. South Carolina (19)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | $5.1 million | 0.06% of South Carolina’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.05% of South Carolina’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

23. Arkansas (24)
Voucher | $2.7 million | 0.05% of Arkansas’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.05% of Arkansas’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

24. Rhode Island (22)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | $1.3 million | 0.05% of Rhode Island’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.05% of Rhode Island’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

25. New Hampshire (25)
Voucher, Tax-Credit Scholarship | $1.6 million | 0.05% of New Hampshire’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.05% of New Hampshire’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

26. Maryland (23)
Voucher | $6.2 million | 0.05% of Maryland’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.04% of Maryland’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

26. Kansas (26)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | $2.0 million | 0.04% of Kansas’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.03% of Kansas’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

28. Tennessee (28)
ESA, Voucher* | $2.2 million | 0.02% of Tennessee’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | 0.02% of Tennessee’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

29. Montana (29)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | Less than $0.1 million | Less than 0.01% of Montana’s combined program and public K–12 current expenditures | Less than 0.01% of Montana’s combined program and public K–12 total expenditures

*Program launches the 2021–22 school year.

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