Tuesday, February 7, 2012

APSCUF responds to Gov. Corbett's proposed cuts to higher education

A crowd of protestors conveyed their disapproval to Gov. Corbett's proposed budget cuts to the state system of higher education in Harrisburg.

In his 2012-13 budget address today, Gov. Tom Corbett announced his plan to slash funding yet again for Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities, with cuts totaling another $82.5 million for the next academic year. This comes on the heels of the current year’s cuts and budget freeze adding up to more than $112 million in lost state funding for 2011-12. All told, the governor’s proposed budget would mean a total loss of nearly $175 million in state funding since he came into office.

These cuts would set back the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to funding levels not seen since 1989-90. That’s right — Corbett is trying to send our universities back to the 1980s. Just for fun, try to remember where you were in 1989… For reference’s sake, it was the year of the Tiananmen Square uprising and the Berlin Wall coming down. The Billboard Hot 100 Song of the Year was “Look Away” by Chicago. “Saved by the Bell” was in its first season.

Here is APSCUF’s official statement:

Funding for state-owned universities is necessary to ensure that Pennsylvania students have the opportunity to go to college.

HARRISBURG – Today Governor Tom Corbett revealed his FY 2012-13 state budget proposal, which cuts funding for Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities by 20 percent, or $82.5 million. The president of the association representing 6,000 faculty members and coaches at the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions expressed dismay that the governor has once again attempted to balance the budget on the backs of students and their working families.

The governor’s proposed budget allocates $330 million to PASSHE, a loss of almost $175 million since Corbett took office. His budget proposal comes just one month after he requested that the State System freeze five percent of last year’s appropriation.

“Since taking office, Governor Corbett has taken every opportunity to decrease funding for our universities,” said Dr. Steve Hicks, president of APSCUF. “We understand that these are challenging economic times, but our students and their families are already struggling to make ends meet. Additional budget cuts are going to put the college dream out of reach for many Pennsylvanians.”

In June, Governor Corbett signed a budget that reduced funding for PASSHE by 18 percent.

As a result, PASSHE was forced to raise tuition 7.5 percent.

“PASSHE has a state-mandated mission to provide accessible, affordable, ‘high quality education at the lowest possible cost to students.’ Our universities cannot continue to meet these goals without critical state support,” Dr. Hicks stated. “The governor’s proposal puts current funding for the State System below 1989-90 levels. This short-sighted budget fix will have a lasting impact on the future of the Commonwealth.”

“Our campus communities must stand together for quality education,” Hicks said. “I urge the legislature to reaffirm the promise of affordable higher education for the working families of Pennsylvania.”

The governor’s budget proposal includes cuts to higher education totaling $265.4 million. In addition to the State System reduction, three of the four state-related universities will see cuts totaling $146.9 million, community colleges, $8.8 million, and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, $27.2 million.
So it looks like its déjà vu all over again. We intend to fight these proposed cuts, just as we did last year, but we once again need your help. Here’s what you can do:

1. Share this post with your friends and colleagues, either by forwarding via email or sharing on social media (you can use the buttons at the bottom of this post). We need to get the word out as quickly as possible to as many members, students and alumni as possible.

2. Encourage your students to get involved in the following ways:

Liking the PA Students Voice Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pastudentsvoice, or
Following the PA Students Voice Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/pastudentsvoice.
3. Register for our budget mobilization webinar, which will be held next Wednesday at 2 p.m. The APSCUF government relations team will be sharing our strategy to combat the governor’s plan and talking about best practices in reaching out to legislators. It’s limited to the first 100 registrants, so hurry and sign up today!

4. Sign up to participate in the APSCUF Lobby Day events on March 26 and 27. On Monday evening, we will have a reception in Harrisburg at Ceoltas Irish Pub from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. On Tuesday, we will be meeting with elected officials at the state Capitol. Please fill out the following form by March 9 if you plan to attend APSCUF Lobby Day in Harrisburg.