Even as they face major shortfalls in their budgets, some governors have proposed plans to spare public universities from the worst of the cuts.
Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri, a Democrat, announced this week a plan that would continue to provide the state’s colleges and universities with the same amount of state aid they received for this fiscal year — $807.9-million — as long as university officials vowed not to increase tuition or fees for the 2009-10 academic year. Missouri faces a budget deficit of about $342-million this year, and that could rise to as high as $1-billion in 2010.
Maryland’s governor, Martin O’Malley, also a Democrat, proposed this week to fully finance the state’s university system despite facing a predicted shortfall of almost $2-billion for the next fiscal year. Governor O’Malley’s proposed budget would cut state spending over all by 1.3 percent from the current year, yet he set aside enough money to allow the university system to freeze tuition at current levels for the fourth year in a row. Higher education was one of just five sectors to be allotted more money in the governor’s budget for next year than this fiscal year.
In Oregon, universities would benefit from a $175-million economic-stimulus plan that state officials have proposed to try to create jobs. The officials have proposed financing maintenance projects to combat unemployment, with the state experiencing its highest unemployment rate since 1976. Higher education was expected to receive $88-million from the package for repairs. —Megan Eckstein