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APSCUF has been monitoring the Pennsylvania state budget debate closely since Gov. Tom Corbett introduced his spending plan in early March. We were deeply concerned when Corbett’s budget proposed a potentially devastating 54-percent cut for the State System of Higher Education. Over the past few weeks, APSCUF has met with legislative leaders, testified at hearings and joined rallies to promote education funding in Pennsylvania. Our focus has been convincing policymakers to restore State System funding to prevent tuition hikes and program cuts. Yesterday, the House Republican caucus revealed their budget plan, and we were encouraged to see that their proposal at least partially rolled back the governor’s proposed cut. However, it still leaves the State System $76 million short of what the state provided last year. This cut, while smaller than the governor’s proposal, would still create financial difficulties for our institutions.

As all of you know, our 14 state-owned universities have been doing more with less for years, even as enrollments grew and state spending per student declined by $2,000. Our schools have kept tuition increases below the rate of inflation for four of the last six years. We’ve already seen program cuts, class size increases and faculty layoffs. Any cut to PASSHE’s funding puts our mission – offering a high-quality education at a reasonable cost – in jeopardy.

We just sent out the official APSCUF budget response to Capitol newsroom and statewide reporters, and we will continue talking with legislative leaders to encourage them to keep up the fight for full restoration of funding for PASSHE. If you haven’t had an opportunity yet, please consider taking a few minutes in the next few weeks to contact your state representative and senator and ask them to support fully funding the 14 state-owned universities.