Another Grim Year in State Budgeting

Nobody’s getting any money next year. At least as far as public higher education goes, it looks like 2011 is going to be another grim year. Continuing state budget problems across the country mean that the Great Recession-induced stingy funding is likely to continue.

According to an Associated Press article by Judy Lin and Shannon McCaffrey in the Boston Globe:

As governors roll out their budget proposals and legislatures convene this month, they do so amid a sputtering economic recovery and predictions of slow growth for years to come. State and local governments face lackluster revenue projections, worries from Wall Street over looming debt and the end of federal stimulus spending.

In the first weeks of 2011, Republican and Democratic governors alike have begun detailing across-the-board pain for education, health care, transportation, public safety and other programs. Some say the year of reckoning for state and local governments is at hand, with calls for structural changes that could radically shift expectations of what services government provides.

Both South Carolina and Georgia are proposing cutting funding for colleges. Illinois is pushing a tax hike.

Part of the problem is that the longer the financial crisis continues, the more strain states have to endure. When people lose their jobs they not only contribute less to the state in the form of taxes, they also demand more in terms of services like unemployment, food aid, and health care.

“The year ahead will demand courage and sacrifice,” said California Governor Jenny Brown, whose own state will face a $25.4 billion budget deficit over the next year. He declined to say when he expects the state to be able to safety return to cowardice and indulgence.

States can’t actually file for bankruptcy protection, though states can default on their debt obligations. Arkansas was the last state to do this, during the Great Depression.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer