A message from APSCUF President Steve Hicks to Faculty, Coaches and Friends of Public Higher Education:
Let me get this off my chest… Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to cut the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) budget another 20 percent ($82.5 million) is ridiculous. In his budget address last year, he proposed slashing PASSHE’s appropriation by a devastating 54 percent. Fortunately, students and faculty across the system came together to rally against the cut, and the legislature restored some of the funding. This year he is doing it again, just weeks after requesting that PASSHE give back $20 million of its current shrunken appropriation.
Another 20 percent cut will do what we all fear is the agenda of this Administration: change the very nature of public higher education in the Commonwealth.
In the aftermath of the governor’s speech, we have heard from multiple power brokers that his numbers should not stand. Several lawmakers of the governor’s party issued statements denouncing the cuts to public higher education:
We have the opportunity to change Corbett’s proposal and do better for our students and the system that serves them.
APSCUF is prepared for this opportunity.
Here’s what’s coming up over the next few months:
- This week – We will be holding our first budget webinar on Wednesday at 2 p.m., when you can learn the best ways to reach out to legislators and make your message have impact. If you’re not registered yet, please do so ASAP.
- Throughout February – Campus Action Days – These are in the planning stages now. If you’d like to get involved, contact your campus Mobilization Chair ASAP.
- March 5 – House Appropriations Committee hearing
- TBD – Senate Appropriations Committee hearing – You may have heard that Appropriations Chair Sen. Jake Corman had not scheduled hearings for any of the state’s higher education institutions. However, since the budget address, Corman has committed to a hearing focused on the State System.
- March 26-27 – APSCUF Lobby Day – This is a great chance to meet your state legislators and educate them about the issues facing our universities. We need a strong showing from faculty and coaches to ensure our message is heard. Sign up now to make the trip to Harrisburg!
- March 28 – Rally at the Capitol – Students, alumni, faculty and coaches will overtake the Capitol steps once again. Higher education is critical to Pennsylvania’s future, and we need to get “Back to the Future.” Again, the contact for this rally will be your chapter Mobilization Chair.
- April 18 – Campaign for the Future of Higher Education’s Day of Action – Like our friends and colleagues all across the country, we will be using this day as a vehicle to reaffirm our commitment to accessible, affordable, quality public higher education.
In advance of the budget, we distributed thousands of postcards, addressed to Corbett, with the message “Invest in PA’s Future.” We hope to deliver those to the Governor’s Office in person very soon.
As legislators begin the examine the details of Corbett’s budget plan, we are planning another round of postcards — with specifics from the governor’s proposal — to push our friends in the General Assembly to restore funding for PASSHE.
The Governor has demonstrated that he has no respect for public higher education. Those of us who have spent our careers seeing the transformative power of our work are not going to stand by idly while he returns us to ’89 — 1889, when only the affluent (and mostly white and male) could attend college.
We are going to fight this and win and make sure current and future students have the opportunity they deserve.