by Dan Hagan, APSCUF intern
On Wednesday, June 12, the House of Representatives voted on HB1437, the $28.3 billion state budget bill. The bill passed with a party-line vote of 108-92 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. The current budget bill provides flat funding to the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) with an appropriation of $412.7 million.
On Monday, the House considered several amendments to the budget bill. House Appropriations Committee Democratic Chairman Joe Markosek proposed an amendment that would increase the state appropriation for PASSHE to $442.9 million. Unfortunately, the amendment was ruled out of order and was not considered by the House.
During the floor debate, Markosek stated, “The governor’s budget has been very, very disappointing. HB1437 continues the misery for a lot of Pennsylvanians in the Commonwealth. It’s a budget of missed opportunities.”
Although level funding for the State System was expected, the state appropriation now accounts for just 26 percent of PASSHE’s budget. The 14 universities will continue to struggle with limited funding; in the past they have been forced to freeze or eliminate programs, increase class sizes, and reduce course offerings.
Flat funding also means that students and their families must assume a greater financial burden to pay for college. Tuition and fees now make up 17 percent of the median family income in Pennsylvania, compared to 8.5 percent just 10 years ago.
Proper state investment is critical for the State System to continue to provide a quality education at the lowest possible cost to students.