Gov. Corbett Signs Budget, Penn State Get Level Funding
As Gov. Tom Corbett rushed to sign the Pennsylvania budget just hours before the deadline yesterday, Penn State breathed a sigh of relief and will receive level funding from state appropriations for the second straight year.
The state’s general appropriation amounts to about $214 million, most of which will be used to subsidize in-state tuition. Additionally, the budget includes just over $46 million for agricultural research, $15.5 million for Penn College, and $6.5 million for the Hershey Medical Center. In all, Penn State will receive about $282 million, a $3 million bump from 2012-2013.
“Our message to college students today is that both my administration and the leaders of your state and state-related schools are committed to making the dream of higher education attainable,’’ Corbett said when unveiling the budget.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Penn State, though. President Rodney Erickson faced tough criticism during Senate appropriation hearings, particularly from Penn State graduates Sen. John Yudichak and Sen. Jake Corman. Both men asked poignant questions about how Erickson’s administration handled the Freeh report.
Nonetheless, the Senate passed the budget, giving Penn State another year of level funding.
“We appreciate the efforts of the state legislature and the governor to maintain level funding for Penn State, during a period when the state’s economy is still struggling,” Erickson said. “Each year, the state’s general support appropriation is used to offset the cost of tuition for Pennsylvania resident students and their families. Combined with Penn State’s significant and ongoing work to cut costs, continued state support will ensure that we are able to provide the Commonwealth’s best and brightest students with the opportunity to receive a top-flight education, no matter their socioeconomic background.”
In actuality, Penn State is the second most expensive public school in the country according to recent U.S. Department of Education numbers, just slightly behind the University of Pittsburgh. Before offering level funding the last two fiscal years, Corbett proposed a 50 percent budget cut in 2009-10 and a 30 percent cut the following year, although both numbers softened by the state legislature.
“I think both sides understand that a young man or a young woman’s future should not begin with a mountain of debt,” Corbett said. “Our young people appreciate the investment Pennsylvania’s taxpayers make toward their education.”
Penn State says it has cut $237.7 million in recurring costs from its operating budget over the last two decades and expects a “very modest” tuition increase. Hopefully two years of level appropriations will give the university a much-needed grace period to cut costs.