Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gop Leader Talks against College Cuts

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gop Leader Talks against College Cuts

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- A top state Senate Republican is pushing back against the governor's proposed cuts for higher education, arguing on Monday for restoring funds for Pennsylvania's state-related colleges.

Sen. Jake Corman, who chairs the Senate Appropriations panel, expressed concerns during an education budget hearing that continued cuts will force University of Pittsburgh and Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities to alter their missions.

Past reductions already have positioned them as "state-barely- related universities," he said.

"They took a huge cut last year. I think they've done their fair share," said Mr. Corman, whose district includes Penn State's flagship campus.

"Whether we can get to it or not depends, but that's my goal. If it's truly a math issue, as everyone is stating -- and I believe it is -- it's up to us to do the math a little better and restore the funding."

Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed to reduce funding for those four universities, as well as for the State System of Higher Education's 14 schools and dozens of community colleges, by about $240 million next year.

Those potential cuts -- which would slash nearly $41 million out of Pitt's $136 million allocation -- would follow the significant reductions approved last year in the governor's first spending plan.

Mr. Corbett and others in his administration have pointed to the continued increases in tuition at the four state-related universities amid both increases and decreases in state funding as evidence that those schools need to find ways to cut costs.

Mr. Corman countered that the difference between the costs of in- state and out-of-state tuition at those schools shows the value of the state's investment. He said Pennsylvania students save $1.3 billion in annual tuition discounts in return for the nearly $500 million that the state contributes.

He added that he'll be asking officials from Pitt, Penn State and the other colleges when they appear before his panel on Wednesday what decisions they would have to make if state aid continues to shrink and they become more like private universities. …

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