Rendell Proposes $21 million cut in Temple support

Temple University, with the other state-related universities, received bad news last week. Gov. Ed Rendell announced his intent to cut the Commonwealth’s appropriation to the four state-related universities for the coming fiscal year by 12.8 percent, and declared that Temple, Penn State, Pitt, and Lincoln universities were being cut out of federal stimulus funding. For Temple University, this would mean an appropriation cut of more than $21 million in addition to the loss of $10.5 million in expected stimulus funding.

Rendell made the announcement on Friday, as part of a sweeping series of budget cuts designed to help balance the 2009-2010 state budget, as required by the state Constitution.

"Like so many of the cutbacks that we have made before, these reductions are painful to me and I understand they will be painful to the people who benefit from the affected programs," the Governor said.

If the General Assembly accepts the Governor’s proposal, it means that Temple will have to re-evaluate its budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“Temple University understands the difficult decisions that the Governor and the General Assembly face as they deal with the state’s fiscal crisis,” said Ken Lawrence Jr., senior vice president for government, community and public affairs.

“However, earlier this year, the university reduced its budget for the coming fiscal year by $40 million to provide for a historically low tuition increase of just 2.9 percent and a $7 million increase in financial aid for students in need,” said Lawrence. “All reductions in Commonwealth support will have a major impact on those decisions regarding tuition and financial aid for our students.”

The state budgeting process continues in Harrisburg, where legislators missed the June 30 deadline.

“We will continue to make our case to the Governor and the General Assembly that sustained investment by the state in higher education and our students is of critical importance even in these difficult times,” said Lawrence.

While the four state-related universities were hit with the 12.8 percent appropriation reduction in the Governor’s proposal, the colleges and universities that are part of the State System of Higher Education and the community colleges were not subject to the same cuts because of requirements for the state to receive federal stimulus funding.

The Governor declared the state-related schools were “not public” because they are not under his “complete control,” and therefore could be excluded from the requirements for federal stimulus funding.

“The Governor’s position flies in the face of the Temple University-Commonwealth Act that made Temple an instrumentality of the Commonwealth and an integral part of the state’s system of higher education in 1965,” said George Moore, senior vice president and university counsel. “It also appears to contradict the terms and intent of the federal stimulus bill.

“The state of Pennsylvania has benefitted greatly from its state-related schools,” Moore added. The Governor’s position will not only do great harm to the state-related schools, but will adversely impact the many Pennsylvania students and their families who depend on us for their futures.”