Ball State economist: low school spending drag on state economy

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Writing “stark observations” about education finance, Dr. Michael Hicks warns Indiana school spending is falling at the same time as worker productivity and personal income. He thinks they’re connected.

He argues in his weekly online commentary more educational spending on Indiana’s “human capital” is a better path to growth than the current “Mississippi Strategy of low taxes, declining educational attainment and huge tax incentives” to businesses.

“It should be a fairly non-partisan issue that we want better school performance and are very concerned about the lackluster performance in the Indiana economy. The two are linked,” Hicks says over Zoom with WANE 15. “There’s not really an important study anywhere that says you can get a better economy without better education.”

Hicks comments come after his analysis of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s “Next Level Teacher Pay Commission” report. The report offers many ways to trim educational costs to boost teacher pay to competitive levels.

“A number of school corporations have written they’re already doing almost all of the cost savings measures the Commission suggested,” says Hicks. “We’ll be lucky to squeeze out $100 million from all of these 37 recommendations when in fact we probably need more like $600 million to $1.2 billion to really get us back to where we should be today.”

Hicks writes in his weekly commentary that from 2010 to 2019, Indiana’s worker productivity declined and per capita personal income saw its largest relative decline in history.

To read his full commentary, click here.

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