Today marks Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s second Budget Proposal address to members of the PA legislature, and with it came a similar tune from last year’s remarks: cuts, limited spending, and no new taxes.
It also came with more bad news for current and future students of Penn State, as the Governor’s proposal has state schools losing 20% of their funding, and state universities, those being Pittsburgh, Temple and Penn State, losing 30% of their funding, meaning Corbett will have erased nearly half of the state universities’ funding in his first two years of service. Another state university, Lincoln University, did not have receive any changes to their funding. To add some context to those percentages, the current Penn State appropriations for the 2011-2012 fiscal year are around $214 million. That number will drop to $150 million if the budget is passed as it is proposed now.
“This also marks a moment when we need to open the discussion about how best to finance higher education in this state,” Corbett said, smack in the middle of his Tuesday morning address, which included a moment of silence for the late Joe Paterno.
“We need to have a thorough, public and candid conversation about how best to deal with the spiraling costs and our own obligations.”
The ball is now in the court of the legislators as well as the presidents and administration of higher-education facilities, and especially for Penn State, the question of whether to become a private university would seem to move to the forefront of discussion if the Governor’s proposal is passed as presented today.
A year ago, Corbett proposed a nearly 50% cut in higher education funding for the state’s public schools and universities, but the passed budget offered a much lower figure at about an 18% to 19% reduction in funding. For Corbett to pass the state’s budget on time again this year, something he mentioned numerous times throughout his speech, it would seem he would need to reduce the amount of money proposed to be cut in his budget proposal today, much like during the 2011-2012 budget debate.
In full, Corbett’s budget proposal totalled 27.1 billion dollars, and offered no new taxes, a piece of legislation that would add what Corbett called a “fee” rather than a tax to Marcellus Shale natural gas drillers, and for the first time in recent memory, did not include a raise in budget for the Department of Corrections.
To view the full budget proposal, click here. Penn State’s appropriations can be found on page 490.