The nation is busy on a budget cutting spree from the national level to the local townships. The economic meltdown and high unemployment means that tax revenues are down everywhere. And while the economy is doing a few rumblings of recovery, there are still plenty of people and industries and communities in difficulty. Into this environment, the conservative swing in government is in part taking the form of swinging the budget cutting axes.
As For Michigan...
The November 2010 elections swept in Republican control of the state house, senate and governor's mansion. While that doesn't mean an automatic pass on any legislation, the good news is that I expect there to be a lot less fighting to come up with something that can be passed -- though the jury is still out as to whether the One Tough Nerd new governor will sign just anything out of the state legislature.
Rick Snyder's first budget was supposed to have been announced about half an hour ago, though the details were given to news organizations late last night.
It sounds like there will be a 3-4% cut in school support and a 15% cut in state university support. The latter sounds like a lot, and it's not chump change, but it isn't quite the bad news that it looks like.
First, state support of the universities has been either declining or holding even for years, so that the state part of the universities budgets has been steadily dwindling. Second, I'm not sure if this includes the moratorium on (most) new construction projects. That's already sent the universities scrambling to raise donor funds for their building projects and so is a known issue.
I'm sure some of the universities will deal with this tightening of the money spigot better than others. I'm expecting that WMU will still be needing to teach courses even in the face of belt tightening, so I am assuming for the moment that I will have work beyond the end of April.
It's not a time to panic. Yet. And a budget is at this stage merely a proposal.