According to a piece by Stephen Ceasar and Teresa Watanabe in the Los Angeles Times:
Slashed budgets are nothing new for educators, but experts say this year stands out.
A year ago, higher-education budgets across the nation were trimmed $1.2 billion. The expected cuts this year: $5 billion. At least 22 states have scaled back K-12 funding and at least 24 have made cuts in higher education for fiscal year 2012, the center found.
The residents of the states naturally object to these cuts but there’s little they can do aside from attending protest marches; states face declining revenue and many expenses (like pensions) states have to pay as a result of state statute. Education costs, on the other hand, are at the whims of the legislature and are often the first things on the budget to go during economic troubles.