Ken and I struggle with what and how much to put out on this venue. I like the informality, especially having spent the last two days doing formal press releases and interviews. (I’ve not seen if today’s papers actually use any of those)
It’s been interesting. A quick note off the top: Representatives Frankel, Hanna and Conklin have gone “social” with a twitter account on this — PA4colleges — and Facebook @ Pennsylvania College Coalition. Our student webpage is trying to connect our students to both local reps and their home reps.
We need to have the representatives hear NOW from large numbers. They need that early pushback.
But that can’t be our only pushback.
We need those concerned in the offices of representatives and senators IN THEIR DISTRICTS as soon as we can. We’ll have a more targeted list soon of those in key positions and holding key votes, but now we just need numbers.
And we need this not to be the only push.
The legislature needs time. They weren’t involved in developing this budget and didn’t get a lot (maybe “any”) answers before Tuesday morning that justify or explain how it was put together.
They are talking about being done by Memorial Day, but that means the big vote might be that week.
Our previously scheduled hearings on the Hill are March 23 in the Senate, March 28 in the House. Those will be good days to make noise in Harrisburg.
In the mean time, we’ll work on individual legislators in Harrisburg. Rep. Adolph, who has a child at West Chester, and Sen. Corman, who represents Centre County, where Penn State is the largest employer, are key figures in this next phase as Appropriations Chairs. We’ve talked to both about the budget already and both are supportive of higher ed.
But let’s lament for a moment: the Republicans won the November election. Tom Corbett is governor, and they hold huge majorities in both houses. It’s unlikely they’ll move off the Governor’s “no tax” pledge, leaving tough choices about how to balance the budget.
We don’t want them choosing to cut higher ed by more than 50 percent. But, without revenue enhancements, it’s cut off our arm or someone else’s.
The public sector unions are with us — we met yesterday. They’ll be pushing for more revenue and a change in this budget that is fairer to all and doesn’t damage our future by gutting education in the Commonwealth.
That’s where we stand today. There’s a long legislative fight ahead of us. Contact your reps now, and we’ll organize for pointed efforts later in the month and beyond.
In solidarity (and sadness),