N E W S R E L E A S E
Minority Leader Bill DeWeese
Democratic Whip Mike Veon
www.pahouse.com CONTACT: Tom Andrews 717-783-4267
Bob Caton 717-772-2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Proposed PA spending cap bad news for tuition bills, financial aid
HARRISBURG, Oct. 31 – House Minority Leader Bill DeWeese and Democratic Whip Mike Veon said a proposed cap on state spending would mean a big financial hit for students at public and private colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. House and Senate Republicans are pushing for tight caps on state spending similar to a cap that has hurt students and universities in Colorado.
“The so-called ‘taxpayer rights’ bills would mean higher tuition bills for Pennsylvania college students, and less financial aid to help them with those larger bills,” DeWeese said. “Colorado is on track to become the first state in the nation to stop funding public higher education with tax money, according to a study by the University of Colorado. Already, tuition at that university has gone up 50 percent in two years.”
“Since 2002, Colorado has cut more than $150 million, or 20 percent, of the schools’ operating money, and another $9 million has been cut from financial aid. It would be a huge blow to Pennsylvania students and the future of our state to go down that same path,” Veon said.
The legislators said that students at private colleges and universities could face cuts to financial aid. At the 14 State System of Higher Education universities and the four state-related universities — Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln — students would face a double hit as state support declined.
“As the leaders of Penn State, Pitt and Temple have informed Republican leaders, Pennsylvania already has the most expensive public universities in the nation. We need to do more, not less, to help make college affordable, and an arbitrary spending cap would be a giant step backward,” the lawmakers said.
The Rocky Mountain News in Denver reports that public colleges in Colorado are receiving fewer state dollars this year, without factoring in inflation, than they have each year since 1997, despite having to educate nearly 30,000 more students. And the Denver Post reports that Colorado is spending $1,800 less for each in-state public-college student than it did three years ago.
DeWeese and Veon said that Pennsylvanians interested in contacting their lawmakers about the proposed caps should refer to the following bill numbers: H.B. 2067, H.B. 2082, S.B. 4 and S.B. 884. Contact information for state legislators is available at www.legis.state.pa.us.
The lawmakers noted that Pennsylvania is already below-average in spending: in 2003 the state ranked 26th in per capita spending, and over 30 years Pennsylvania state spending has averaged less than a 3 percent increase annually. In addition, out of the 41 states that have a personal income tax, Pennsylvania has the second lowest personal income tax rate in the country.
According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania’s state and local tax burden percentage is also relatively low: 35th highest out of 50.
DeWeese and Veon said Pennsylvania students and families would benefit more from enactment of the fall agenda they share with Gov. Ed Rendell, including the first increase in the minimum wage in eight years and tuition refund grants for Pennsylvania National Guard members who are students when called to active duty.
To read the joint letter (2 pages) to the General Assembly from the presidents of Penn State and Temple universities and the chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh about the proposed spending cap, visit www.pahouse.com/deweese or www.pahouse.com/veon.