Gov. Ed Rendell last week proposed to the General Assembly a $23.8 billion state budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year, increasing overall spending by 3.5 percent. He also recommended reducing aid to Temple for the fourth time in the last six years. Here we go again.
Rendell proposed a $167.74 million appropriation for Temple, which would be $2.25 million less than the University is currently allotted. Temple asked for $180.17 million, in hopes of returning its state funding to higher levels in years past.
When the governor said no dice, offering Temple an allocation more than 7 percent below its request, University administrators expressed concern over the prospect of facing financial challenges over the next school year.
If the above sounded like gobbledygook, the point is that another cut in funding is a big deal, but not as monumental as it sounds. Students may have to shoulder some of the financial burden in the form of tuition hikes and school officials will have to juggle myriad concerns with less dough in the piggy bank, but Temple’s overall budget is massive – over $750 million – and is far from facing fiscal crisis.
Conversely, other publicly funded institutions are feeling increased pressure, and Rendell is correctly focusing on these establishments to help relieve financial woes rather than shelling out millions to a University in a pretty sound fiscal position.
For example, Rendell boosted funding for Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges by 10 percent. It’s the largest increase in 15 years, and is directed toward educational programs that depend more on state funds and less on wealthy alumni donations and huge endowments like more super-sized universities such as Temple.
The governor also proposed a 2.5 percent increase in funding for public schools and libraries, as well as a $15 million subsidy to expand Head Start programs.
He pledged more funding for mass transit by over $5 million. All this, and the governor said he wouldn’t raise taxes.
So Temple will likely receive a funding cut, again, which must be finalized by June. Tuition hikes might be raised, again, during the next academic year.
But this year’s cut – just over a measly 1 percent – won’t throw Temple into a financial tailspin. The University will undoubtedly recover, quite easily, and in the process many programs that are near economic disaster will receive much needed funding.