Pa. budget cuts force Temple to scale down

For the second time this semester, Temple has had to return millions to the state because of budget shortfalls.

This year’s holiday shopping season might be contingent upon how many more budget cuts Temple will see this upcoming year.

So far, Temple has set aside $11.4 million to give back to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania after Gov. Ed Rendell made numerous budget cuts. Temple initially set aside $7.5 million, but has recently set aside an additional $3.9 million.

The three largest sources of revenue for the state are the personal income tax, corporate income tax and sales tax.

While the economy is in a recession, Temple’s Chief Financial Officer Anthony Wagner said more cuts are coming.

“I don’t think it would be prudent for us to think that these are the end of the cuts,” he said.

Because of this, Temple has set aside more than what was asked by the state, but Wagner said the university has little “wiggle room” if more money is requested to be returned.

“The way we’re trying to cobble it together, we thought it would be best to overshoot the amount,” he said.

In a press release from Oct. 30, Rendell announced he and his staff identified $350 million in cuts that would preserve the state’s budget.

“The revenue situation may get worse before it gets better,” he said. “We will continue to monitor these volatile economic conditions in order to maintain the Commonwealth’s balanced budget.”

The economy’s recent downward spiral forced Rendell to report an additional $128 million in cuts last week.

“Everything is on the table for consideration and review. We have to balance our budgetary restraint measures with our obligation to provide quality public services to the citizens of the Commonwealth,” Rendell said.

Wagner said these steps are an effort to balance the budget, but he said it isn’t the end.

“My concern is that there are going to be more cuts,” he said. “The state currently has reserved a total of $478 million. Some of that $478 million they’ve reserved, the governor doesn’t have the unilateral right to reserve.”

Wagner said there are other members of state government who need to voluntarily comply with the cut. He also added the state government’s shortfall was more than $600 million, an amount the state hasn’t fully reserved for.

The state has a rainy day fund of about $750 million, but Wagner said not to expect the state to be using it to dig itself out of the deficit.

“Every year when the state has a surplus, which it has had the past few years, a certain amount is transferred into that fund for times like this,” Wagner said.

When the first cut was made, Temple restricted out-of-state travel and hiring practices. The restrictions were instituted not just because of the budget cuts but to restrict people from hiring at their own will, Wagner said.

With the two largest revenue collections — March and April —months away, Wagner said it will be late in the fiscal year before Rendell has a sound footing on how the budget will end up.

LeAnne Matlach can be reached at

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