Posted March 11, 2011

Faculty experts respond to Gov. Corbett’s budget proposal

Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal for 2011-12 cuts the Commonwealth appropriation to state-related institutions by more than 50 percent. Temple faculty experts weighed in on the governor’s address, his proposed budget and what it means for higher education.

Joseph P. McLaughlin

Director of Temple’s Institute for Public Affairs

“This budget reflects Gov. Corbett’s campaign promises by holding the line on taxes and cutting deeply into state programs. If enacted in substantially this form, the budget will have a profound impact on thousands of institutions across the Commonwealth — not just counties, municipalities and school districts, but colleges and universities, hospitals and other service providers that the state funds and regulates. Citizens may be surprised at the results. Even if the legislature provides these institutions with the flexibility and mandate relief he is seeking, reduced services levels and higher local taxes, fees and tuitions seem inevitable.

“Those who depend on state services have to hope that the economy comes back faster and stronger than expected so that the legislature is able to restore some of the cuts.”

William W. Cutler III

Professor of history and professor of educational leadership

“Looking at the governor’s budget proposal through the lens of history highlights the ambiguous relationship we have had in this country with public higher education. State involvement in grade 1-12 education actually goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. While we have always been willing to pay 100 percent for basic education, the commitment to higher ed has not been the same — but today a college degree is as important as a high school diploma was 60 years ago.

“We invest in public education not for the good of individuals but for the common good. Today, the need to invest in higher education has grown because the need for a college degree has grown.”

Michael G. Hagen

Associate professor and graduate chair, Department of Political Science

“Very near the start of his address, Gov. Corbett said, ‘The day of reckoning has come.’ On one hand, ‘reckoning’ merely means doing the math. ‘We have to spend less, because we have less to spend,’ Corbett put it. But ‘the day of reckoning,’ sometimes used as a synonym for ‘judgment day,’ invokes much more than math, dividing the world into good and evil.

“The principles his budget reflects include not simply fiscal discipline — the math — but also limited government, free enterprise and reform. Whether or not Pennsylvania’s current fiscal circumstances make these cuts necessary in some actuarial sense, these are cuts that, in the governor’s view, ought to be made under any circumstances."