These days, when states catch cold, their public universities Tare bound to start sneezing. State budget deficits, aggravated by a drawn-out recession and an anemic economic recovery, have led to cost-cutting that in many cases has lessened funding for higher education. And the link between a state's financial condition and the creditworthiness of higher education institutions has some municipal bond analysts pondering whether public universities should be disclosing more about the states that help fund them.

"It's very important to know about a state's fiscal condition," said Katherine R. Bateman, an assistant vice president and sector manager of higher education at John Nuveen & Co. "If [a university] is getting over 50% of its revenue from a state, it would be ideal for both the state's and the school's financials to be included in the official statement."

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