School choice is becoming a bigger issue in Texas’s gubernatorial race. After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he intends to support educational freedom during the state’s 2023 legislative session, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke claimed, “Abbott is for defunding our public schools.”
O’Rourke has repeated this claim in radio and newspaper ads targeting rural Texas areas. But Texas’s K-12 education spending data do not support O’Rourke’s allegation. Between 2002 and 2020, inflation-adjusted education spending in Texas increased by 16%, going from $11,473 per student to $13,346 per student.
Much of this funding increase went to staffing costs, with spending on employee benefits — a Census Bureau data category that includes teacher