Talk about betraying your ignorance in service of political posturing. Looking for a way to cling to the idea that Colorado ranks 49th in something and bash the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights over the head, the Dead Guvs jumped on one particular set of rankings in the latest U.S. Census Bureau school funding data — with an attempted one-two punch on supporters of government spending limitations and on the Southern states:
We like to imagine that it’s Mississippi, Alabama, or another stereotype Deep South state that saves Colorado every year from ranking dead-last in education spending as a percentage of income. Okay, Florida then. Close enough.
The problem is threefold, and bears out when you look at the actual rankings (PDF). First, measuring spending as a percentage of personal income punishes states with greater earning power — the best way to increase your ranking is to make less money. As a result, West Virginia ranks fourth, Georgia 10th, Arkansas 11th, Mississippi 13th, South Carolina 16th, Alabama 21st. Meanwhile, Connecticut ranks 33rd, Illinois 35th, Maryland 37th, Minnesota 42nd, and Washington state 48th.
Second, there is absolutely no correlation between funding as a percentage of personal income and any measurable outputs in education. Florida, the only state below Colorado on this particular ranking, has been one of the most remarkable success stories in achievement gains — especially among its poor and minority populations — due to its wide-ranging reforms that promote choice, accountability, and excellence … without a huge infusion of funding.
Third, and it’s a minor point, Colorado hasn’t even ranked 49th in this particular category for several years.
It’s sad to see the Dead Guvs stuck in a tired debate that has moved forward. Find another way to do your TABOR-bashing.