The 419th page of Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget stresses a commitment to “access, affordability and performance in higher education.” But the numbers tell a different story.
Wolf, in his new budget for the next fiscal year, has asked the state legislature to keep Temple’s appropriation flat, at about $150 million, asking the university to do more with less. That appropriation doesn’t even cover the cost of inflation.
The state’s public universities, which are struggling with enrollment, are getting an $8.9 million increase, while the Higher Education Assistance Agency, which helps Pennsylvania students pay for college through scholarships and grants, continues to receive much less than in 2015-16, before nearly $40 million was cut from it. And state funding for higher education is still at levels much lower than before the 2008 recession.
Wolf should fight to raise the appropriations for state-related universities, of which Temple is a part, to ensure tuition is kept at a reasonable level. If Temple is left with financial need due to the state appropriation, it will either increase tuition or cut services, both of which would negatively impact students.
In his previous budget, Wolf asked the legislature for a 6.5 percent tax on Marcellus Shale fracking to generate state revenue, but the plan was later abandoned when the Republican-dominated legislature vowed to not raise any taxes. This year, Wolf has said little about fracking except as a driver for job growth. He has instead sought to cut spending by about $2 billion.
But while Republicans rejoice at budget cuts, students may have to foot the bill.