Focus on fair funding

The new state leadership should address past funding cuts to education.

With a projected deficit already at $2 billion looming over Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, many institutions, including Temple, are nonetheless prepared to ask for more funding.

The state-related university announced in September that it would request a 5 percent increase in its Commonwealth appropriation after three years of flat funding following a $32 million cut in 2011. That cut was one of a slew of fiscal belt-tightenings the outgoing Governor Tom Corbett had instituted across the state during the recession. Temple currently receives about $140 million from the state each year.

Other state-related schools including the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and the state’s entire public higher education system have also requested funding increases after cuts or flat appropriations that are worth less and less each year with rising costs.

And now, with the new legislature sworn in as of last week and Wolf set to be inaugurated a week from today, it’s almost time for Harrisburg to really get to work on these issues. The line of institutions looking for more state dollars will start forming, and legislators need to be prepared to hear their concerns.

Education is just one sector that needs money – tuition has risen steadily across the state and here at Temple. This past summer, the Board of Trustees announced that tuition would rise almost 4 percent for the current school year.

The raising of tuition cannot continue much longer.  Students need the security of knowing that someday, eventually, tuition might decrease, or at least freeze. And at a university which after the cuts now receives about 16 percent of its budget from the commonwealth, the legislature is to a degree responsible for preventing student debt.

The Temple News, in Harrisburg on Jan. 6, witnessed the soft-spoken Speaker Mike Turzai repeatedly calling the House session to order, the legislators off somewhere grabbing a bite and chatting with their families. Reluctantly, they sauntered in, cookies and juice in hand, their chatting overpowering Turzai’s voice as he demanded to get the session started.

Hopefully, once the real legislative season gets started, they listen. This year, Harrisburg needs cooperation for real change.

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