AUSTIN, Texas – With 40 percent of Texas’ general spending going toward education, the Lone Star State outpaces the national average of 34 percent. Further, Texas outspends Florida, Colorado and California, according to a new study to be released today [Wednesday, June 26, 2002] by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The study – part four of the Foundation’s “Taxing Texans” series by internationally acclaimed economist Richard Vedder, Ph.D. – examines how the state compares to it’s geographic and economic rivals, as well as the nation overall. The reports can be found here.

“At the elementary, secondary and collegiate levels, Texas devotes a larger percent of its tax revenue to education than the national average,” says Dr. Vedder. “Yet some claim Texas’ spending is inadequate, pointing to the fact that Texas’ per pupil spending is slightly lower than the national average.”

However, Texas ranks 27th in actual spending per pupil – $6,588.

Vedder explains comparisons of per-pupil spending are unreliable because of the differences between the states in other economic factors. His study points to a number of factors, including a lower wage level and Texas’ higher concentration of young people. Nationally, 17 of every 100 state residents go to primary or secondary public schools; in Texas, it is 19 out of 100.

“The most contentious issue in education financing is the state-local mix,” notes Vedder, a college professor. “Texas does rely somewhat more on local funding than average – but that reliance is a virtue, not a weakness.”

Vedder points to very recent research by Harvard University’s Caroline Hoxby that finds heavier reliance on local dollars for school funding increases school accountability and student academic performance.

“Students in Texas – particularly African-American and Latino students – demonstrate impressive gains in elementary and middle grades that challenge the average achievement of their peers throughout the nation, “Vedder concludes “So when people try to tell you Texas shortchanges its students, don’t believe them.”