Posted March 11, 2011

Cuts to higher ed in Pennsylvania deeper than in neighboring states

This week, Gov. Tom Corbett announced his plan to cut the university’s appropriation by more than 50 percent, further diminishing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s investment in higher education —  already the nation’s eighth lowest as of last year.

While no state in the region is free from making difficult economic choices like those facing the Commonwealth’s leaders this year, Pennsylvania’s proposed cuts in its investment in higher education this year have been far more drastic than its neighbors’.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has listed the funding of higher education as one of the core priorities in his spending plan for the next year. Rather than cutting New Jersey’s investment, he has proposed leaving last year’s funding plan intact for state colleges and universities, increasing aid to students by nearly 20 percent, and slightly increasing aid to community colleges.

Currently, no other mid-Atlantic state is proposing a plan as supportive of higher education as Gov. Christie’s, and each is proposing a moderate cut. In New York, where investment in higher education has grown by more than 13 percent in five years, leaders intend to decrease spending on state colleges and universities by roughly 10 percent for the next fiscal year. In Delaware, Gov. Jack Markell has proposed a $6.5 million reduction in state funding of higher education. Maryland — a state that has increased its investment in higher ed by more than 25 percent over the last five years — is planning on cutting spending on state colleges and universities by just 2 percent this year.

While Gov. Corbett’s proposal would affect Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities dramatically, his plan is not set in stone. In the weeks to come, Pennsylvania’s leaders will hold budget hearings and deliberate over the governor’s proposal before settling on a final budget for the next fiscal year. Members of the Temple community are encouraged to get involved in these deliberations through the Temple Advocates Legislative Outreach Network (TALON).