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Gov’s Budget – State Universities See Increase

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While the 14 state-owned universities would see a 3.3 percent or $15 million boost in support under Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2018-19 spending plan, the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities would see no increase.

The four-state-related universities again are flat-funded in the governor’s proposed state budget, unveiled in a speech Tuesday to a joint session of the General Assembly in Harrisburg. The plan continues a pattern in which the state-owned campuses have fared better collectively in the governor’s proposals than other segments of public higher education

The institutions and amounts proposed include:

  • State System, $468.1 million;
  • Pitt, $144.2 million;
  • Penn State, $230.4 million;
  • Temple, $150.6 million;
  • Lincoln, $14.4 million.

The state’s 14 community colleges, including the Community College of Allegheny County, also are flat-funded at $232.1 million. They as well as the state-related campuses saw no general support increase in last year’s proposed spending plan for the Commonwealth.

The state grant program, administrated by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, would be reduced by half a million dollars to $272.9 million, according to the governor’s budget summary. Other appropriations there would be flat, including Ready to Succeed Scholarships and matching payments for student aid.

“We appreciate Gov. Wolf’s continued support for the State System’s 14 universities and look forward to working with him and the members of the General Assembly to secure a fourth consecutive year of increased investment in our students and in the future of the Commonwealth,” said interim State System Chancellor Karen Whitney in a statement.

Penn State said it sees the amount earmarked as a reflection of the governor’s efforts to protect the state’s investment in the university and in public higher education. Noting that the governor’s spending plan is the first step in the budgetary process, it also said it looks forward to additional conversations with lawmakers.

“Penn State’s appropriation from the Commonwealth is vitally important to thousands of Pennsylvania families, and it helps the University to achieve its mission of serving the citizens of Pennsylvania,” its statement read.

Pitt spokesman Joseph Miksch said, “It is very early in the budget process and the University hopes for a positive outcome.”

A dispute between House Republicans and the governor over a then unfinished 2017-18 budget left the state-related schools with no state appropriation for much of the first half of this fiscal year.

The 14 State System schools include Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities of Pennsylvania.

Overall, the governor’s proposed $33 billion budget is about 3 percent more than the current $32 billion appropriation.

Basic Education would see a $100 million increase; early childhood education would see $40 million in new investment; special education investment would grow by $20 million, and an additional $40 million would be directed toward creating “21st Century Jobs and Skills” through efforts including Career and Technical Education program enhancements, aid for high-demand career pathways and for computer science.