Before Proposition 13 severely restricted property tax levies, California’s per-student spending on “current instruction” was the 7th-highest in the nation. By the 2010-11 school year, it had fallen to 38th, at $10,051 per student(in 2016 dollars). But, with the post-recession recovery, it rose to 29th, at $10,762, in 2014-15. That figure excludes debt service, facilities and other non-instructional costs; spending from federal, state and local sources of revenue are included.

California’s funding per student is among the lowest in the United States when a state’s cost of living is considered. California typically funds education at a level similar to Texas, even though the cost of operating a school in California is more similar to that of New York or Massachusetts.

National data on spending run several years behind the current year. The increases in student spending in California as a result of a tax increase through Proposition 30, passed in 2012, and a rebounding economy in the past several years are not yet fully reflected in the latest numbers, covering fiscal year 2014-15.

Chart by John C. Osborn. Updated by Daniel J. Willis, Justin Allen and Yuxuan Xie

Note: Each year in the charts and graphs refers to both the calendar year and the fiscal year. Thus, 2013 incorporated data from the fiscal year 2013-14 (July 1 through June 30) as well as the calendar year 2013.