STATE REP. MIKE HANNA
The public institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania saw major reductions in Gov. Tom Corbett's first two state budgets.
Community colleges were cut by 10 percent, State System of Higher Education entities such as Lock Haven University were cut by 18 percent and the state-related universities such as Penn State were cut by 19 percent.
In the fall of 2012, the Governor's Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education concluded that the current funding levels should not be reduced because further cuts will result in serious harm to Pennsylvania's colleges and universities.
So the Corbett administration proposed flat-funding higher education for the 2013-14 budget year - that is, the schools would receive the same appropriation as 2012-13 levels.
However, while that provides the appearance that schools would receive no less funding than they are currently receiving, higher education funding remains in a large hole since Corbett took office.
For example, the 2013-14 proposal suggests that the State System schools would receive $52.4 million less from the state than they received in the 2010-11 budget year. And Penn State would receive $37.7 million less than 2010-11.
When state revenue is down, priorities and choices have to be made regarding where to spend incoming tax dollars.
Unfortunately, this governor has decided that providing billions of dollars in tax cuts to multi-million-dollar, out-of-state corporations is more important than providing adequate funding to our colleges and universities so that tuition can remain affordable for Pennsylvania families.
My House Democratic colleagues and I promise to work in the coming weeks and months to ensure that education at every level in Pennsylvania is properly funded to eliminate or minimize any tuition or local property tax increases.
(Hanna represents the 76th Legislative District in Clinton and Centre counties and serves as Democratic whip in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.)