The West Chester University community is anxiously awaiting word on its funding future as Gov. Tom Corbett will deliver his FY2012-13 budget address on Tuesday, Feb. 7, even as he has called for an additional $20 million in cuts to the 14 state-owned universities this academic year.
“In the case the State System gives consent to the governor’s request, the universities’ loss will reach over $112 million for the current fiscal year,” Dr. Steve Hicks, President of APSCUF said. “The State System has a state-mandated mission to provide a ‘high quality education at the lowest possible cost to students.’
In order for this mission to be fulfilled, I recommend the governor and state legislature adequately fund the system. Furthermore, I urge the State System’s Board of Governors to reject the governor’s request for a $20 million freeze.”
On Jan. 4, Corbett ordered state agencies under his control to hold a percentage of their funding in reserve to offset projected revenue shortfalls. The governor requested the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) freeze 5 percent, or $20 million. As an independent state agency, PASSHE has the option to deny Corbett’s request. The Board of Governors has yet to make a decision on the request and declined to take action at their Jan. 19 meeting.
This budget freeze request would be in addition to the 18 percent cut ($92 million) PASSHE received in last year’s budget, which resulted in a 7.5 percent ($436 a year) tuition hike for State System undergraduates.
The West Chester University community should hope the governor’s freeze request is not any indication of his budget address on Tuesday, Feb.7. In any case, a close eye should be kept on Harrisburg in the upcoming months, as the fight to keep tuition low at state-owned institutions continues.