SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – According to a report from non-profit watchdog California Common Sense, the state now spends more on prisons than universities.

The report, Winners and Losers: Corrections and Higher Education In California looked at state expenditures between 1980 and 2011 and found a trend of swelling corrections spending at the same time as higher education funding declined on a percentage basis.

“While both higher education and corrections each receive more today than they did in 1980, in terms of their shares of the State budget, the two areas have experienced reversed fates,” reads the report.

Higher education spending is now less than 10 percent of the California General Fund, while corrections makes just over 10 percent.

The study found that inmate spending has largely avoided cuts during recession periods, while the California State University System, Community Colleges and University of California systems have been subjected to cuts. Researchers said the percentage of people incarcerated grew much faster than the general population over the study period.

“While in 1980 more than two-thirds of higher education funding came from the State, today only one-quarter does,” the report continued. Over that period, corrections spending expanded its share of the State’s General Fund by 436%.”

Study projections illustrate how the education system has increasingly relied on tuition increases, especially during periods of economic decline.

When combined, higher education and K-12 spending still make up more than half of state general fund spending.


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