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Admin preps for election year budget

Gov. Corbett faces criticism from left for cuts in education spending.

The annual process of state budgeting is set to begin in the new year and Temple’s funding is again up for debate. In an election year, which includes the governor’s seat on the ballot, the budget negotiations have the possibility of influencing a different outcome than normal.

With past cuts to Temple funding still fresh in officials’ memories, Temple has requested to keep the appropriations at the same level as last fiscal year, with a small increase in the proposal accounting for inflation.

Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to release his budget proposal next week, including his recommended allocation for Temple.

“I would hope it stays the same, but we haven’t seen indication of anything yet,” Ken Lawrence, Temple’s senior vice president for government, community and public affairs, said in a phone interview.

Temple’s standing at the state capitol has been a tentative position. In the 2011-12 budget, Temple’s state funding was slashed by more than $25 million.

The next year, Corbett a 50 percent cut to funding for the state-related universities, Temple, Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University. The cuts were reduced to 30 percent in Corbett’s proposed budget but eventually dropped outright in favor of keeping the same appropriations levels as the previous year.

However, Temple may not have as much to worry about as in previous years due to the elections coming in November. Last week, Corbett was scheduled for his first visit to a Philadelphia public school, Central High School, but canceled out of concern for causing a disruption for the students, he said.

This move comes at a time when potential Democratic challengers are criticizing Corbett on low public education funding during his tenure.

“Politics always factors in,” Lawrence said. “Across the board, all elected officials are going to be affected [by the elections].”

Temple students and officials hope to keep cuts from happening by advocating during the coming budget negotiations. Following Corbett’s budget proposal, the General Assembly will hold hearings with representatives from the state-relateds on Feb. 13. The House Appropriations committee is accepting online submissions from the public for questions they may ask during this hearing.

“This kicks us into Temple advocacy time,” Darin Bartholomew, Temple’s student body president, said.

Temple Student Government as well as the Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs have planned the annual events Owls Academy, Owls on the Hill and Cherry and White week.

Owls Academy is a series of monthly classes where students learn about Temple’s relation with the state government and how to lobby for Temple when they meet lawmakers and advocate for the university on April 28 for Cherry and White Week and April 29 for Owls on the Hill. The former event was created last year, but the latter is a long-running program.

“We feel like we should show lawmakers the value Temple brings to the commonwealth,” Lawrence said.

David Adamany, former president of Temple and current political science professor, said that state funding is not a new concern for the university.

“Even if the state keeps our appropriation at the same level as this current year or even provides a small increase,” Adamany said in an email. “Temple – which has many more students than it did in the past and which of course has to meet the costs of inflation – will have fewer state dollars than in the past.”

According to the university’s Common Data Set, Temple’s student enrollment has increased by more than 13 percent in the last decade. Despite this, Temple funding has decreased by nearly 9 percent in the same time period.

The other state-related universities have seen similar cuts resulting in USA Today recently naming Pennsylvania the third most expensive state in the United States to attend college.

The state budget is expected to be finalized and signed into law by June.

Marcus McCarthy can be reached at marcus.mccarthy@temple.edu or on Twitter @marcusmccarthy6.

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