Last week, tens of thousands of students returned to Main Campus to start classes. Next week, more than 100,000 students begin the academic year in dozens of schools across the School District of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia students, along with every other public university and school across the state, will be returning to class without the legislature passing a state budget.
It’s understandable that Tom Wolf, a Democrat, would have problems coming to an agreement with a legislature that is majority Republican on the $78.6 billion proposed budget. However, 63 days after the deadline has passed, students across the state deserve better.
Temple’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Ken Kaiser told The Temple News last week that the university isn’t worried about the lack of state funding.
“When they’re delayed in providing us the funding, it’s such a small piece that we can weather that storm from a liquidity perspective,” Kaiser said.
While Temple was only slated to receive $155.3 million under Tom Wolf’s proposed budget—roughly 12 percent of the university’s current operating budget—it’s unfair to ask students to pay for tuition increases in each of the past three years, and not see state legislators agree on what to provide for higher education, which was a major part of Wolf’s campaign platform last fall.
The bigger issue lies with Philadelphia’s public schools. Almost half of its projected budget—roughly $3.1 billion—is funded by the state. The longer the General Assembly takes to pass a budget, the longer the district has to find other ways to operate, a demand that is unreasonable given that the district has had to cut 31 schools and lay off thousands of workers due to a lack of money.
We understand that deciding how $78.6 billion should be allocated across the state is a tough issue to debate, but refusing to come to a conclusion more than two months after the deadline is unacceptable to Pennsylvania’s students.