The Wisconsin governor’s call to sharply cut funding to that state’s public universities seems to have spawned similar moves in other states. This could lead to a series of queen sacrifices, where core academic programs shrink or disappear.
Illinois: new governor Bruce Rauner called for significant cuts to higher education. One source, a college presidents, reports “legislators are considering… reducing higher education funding by 20 to 30 percent”.
Louisiana: governor Bobby Jindal announced his intention to plug that state’s budget deficit by cutting public higher education funding, in part. One story notes
[a] nearly $400 million cut to higher education would mean anywhere from a 40 to 60 percent state funding reduction on most of Louisiana’s public universities, forcing programs and possibly campuses to shutter.
Arizona: new governor Doug Ducey would like to cut public higher education funding by $75 million.
Kansas: recently reelected governor Sam Brownback has ordered a 2% cut to public higher education funding.
West Virginia: more state cuts are on their way, thanks to governor Earl Ray Tomblin, including $2 million from one university. $11 million in reductions across West Virginia’s public higher education system is on the legislature’s table now.
[ADDED] Ohio: governor Kasic encouraged higher education leaders to make cuts, or else he’ll take a hand. To wit: “He said he would give higher-education leaders “a chance to do this before we take an ax to them.””
Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s chancellor is telling staff (not faculty, as far as I can tell) to expect layoffs over the next few months.
Note that all but one of these governors is a Republican, and some are rising stars in that party’s firmament. Note, too, that several of these gentlemen are facing revenue shortfalls driven in part by their own tax policies. Will we see a wave of higher education cuts sweep the many Republican-led states? Will this elicit Democratic opposition?
Now, this is early days. All but Kansas still have legislative process to go through, which will probably change these plans. We don’t know how the cuts will turn out, should they come to pass. But there’s a lot of energy here, and it might shape the near-term future of American higher education.
(thanks to George Station, Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Mark Lewis, Karen, and other friends for their information and conversation)