Later in the speech, the governor said he would “protect education funding,” despite the state’s projected $20 billion deficit through the end of 2010-11.
That’s a tall order without raising taxes, since education makes up roughly half of the budget, so I’ll be curious to see the details of his budget plan on Friday. Maybe the state Legislators will take his pony and pig story to heart.
Here’s an excerpt of his speech:
Now, I will address our immediate budget situation more fully in a few days, when I present my budget but let me just give you an overview.
We face a $19.9 billion deficit — $6.6 billion for the rest of this budget year and $13.3 billion for the upcoming budget year.
Big picture, let me tell you what will be required here.
First, as bitter as the words are in my mouth, we face additional cuts. We know what that means. We know the pain it entails. I mean, what can we say at this point except the truth, that we have no choice?
But I am drawing this line. Because our future economic well-being is so dependent upon education, I will protect education funding in this budget. (Applause) And we can no longer afford to cut higher education either. (Applause)
The priorities have become out of whack over the years. I mean, think about it.
30 years ago 10 percent of the general fund went to higher education and three percent went to prisons. Today, almost 11 percent goes to prisons and only 7.5 percent goes to higher education.
Spending 45 percent more on prisons than universities is no way to proceed into the future. (Applause) What does it say about our state? What does it say about any state that focuses more on prison uniforms than on caps and gowns? It simply is not healthy.
So I will submit to you a constitutional amendment so that never again do we spend a greater percentage of our money on prisons than on higher education. (Applause)
We’ll see what he proposes on Friday.