June was a very busy month for the General Assembly. As you may know, the state budget deadline was June 30. Yesterday, the legislature sent a budget to Governor Wolf, which he immediately vetoed. In contrast to the Governor’s budget that called for a $45 million increase to the State System, this one only contained a 1.8% increase for basic education, and it increased the State System’s appropriation by 3%, or $12.3 million. These increases were far less that Governor Wolf’s proposed $45 million and the State System’s request of $50 million. In 2011, the State System suffered a $90 million, or 18% cut. The good news is that our advocates from both political parties in the legislature remembered that cut, and they were clearly pressing for increases. However, there was no additional money in the legislature’s budget for Cheyney University’s Keystone Honors Academy.
Given the Governor’s historic veto, all of the parties must go back to the drawing board to begin budget negotiations anew. Nobody knows (not even the key players) know how long, precisely, this budget impasse will last.
At yesterday’s Board of Governors meeting, the Office of the Chancellor stated that the State System could operate without the state appropriation through September. As this protracted budget debate continues, we will keep you informed of any progress. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to call your local legislator and urge them to work with the Governor to craft a budget that more fully invests in education generally, and in public higher education, specifically.