November 01, 2003

State Spending More on Prisons than Higher Education

In a striking outcome of the deliberations on this year's budget, the state in 2004 will for the first time in decades spend more on prisons and jails than on public higher education. While this change in budgetary priorities has occurred during a severe fiscal crisis, it reflects trends in state funding for these two crucial, albeit very different, programs that stretch back for many years. For both areas, the huge structural deficit in the state budget-and the certainty of limited resources in the years ahead-raise critical questions about their future course.