Here’s the latest word from the Capitol – after weeks of hearings and behind-the-scenes talks, the state House is finally set to bring up a budget bill for initial consideration next week.
- Good news: Revenue numbers through the end of April show the state has a budget surplus of about $500 million.
- Bad news: Gov. Tom Corbett has declared that the budget surplus shouldn’t be spent to offset education cuts.
- Good news: Legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle are voicing their support for restoring the devastating cuts proposed for the State System.
- Bad news: We still have no idea how much of those proposed cuts will be restored.
The state budget was the topic du jour on a recent Behind the Headlines program, hosted by Charlie Greenawalt of the Susquehanna Valley Center for Public Policy. Greenawalt characterized the governor’s budget proposal as “filled with a large, whopping surprise: a 54-percent reduction… in state higher education.” Some additional highlights from the Behind the Headlines segment:
- About the proposed budget’s impact: “It’s devastating. It’s a 15-percent cut to our operating budget. You just can’t instantly cut off 15 percent of your operating budget…. We are worried about being able to provide our mandate out of Act 195, which says we are supposed to provide a quality and affordable education.”
- More on PASSHE’s mission: “What we do as a university system, a big part of our mission is we provide first-generation college students an opportunity to come, get a college education and move beyond where their parents were. Ninety percent of our students come from the state; 80 percent stay in the state when they graduate…. This is very much about the health of the middle class in the Commonwealth.”
For those who are interested, the video is available below.
At this moment, we are encouraged by the state’s overall economic health and public comments from many of our legislators, but we are adopting a wait-and-see mindset until we know exactly how much of our funding we will be able to restore. The state budget vote is finals week for our legislature – the chance for state representatives and senators to perform and deliver real results.
And it’s finals week for Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities, with graduation set for this weekend. Congratulations to all of our soon-to-be graduates as they move on to jobs, externships and advanced study!