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A new approach is suggested that depends on and measures how spending on higher and basic education is really an investment in the future, not consumption spending. This is a vital distinction because investment in human capital contributes heavily to growth and development, but also to higher state tax revenue and lower Medicaid, child care, welfare, and criminal justice system costs as developed here. These contribute directly to the state’s fiscal health and legislator’s more immediate concerns. But just as with the needs to fund higher education costs and “adequacy” in K-12 funding, this criterion alone is partial. The paper develops the total return to education relative to full costs as the basic education financing criterion for whether there is under or over-investment in education for efficient family and statewide development.