State-related universities have waited too long for Harrisburg to pony up.
When the leaders of Temple, Penn State University, Lincoln University and the University of Pittsburgh set tuition rates for the current semester, they did so blindly – a gamble, one might say.
The four state-related universities kept their respective tuition increases low to accommodate students and their families without knowing how much money each university would be receiving in state appropriations and, more importantly, when each institution would receive those funds.
One might call this irresponsible. Knowing state-related institutions are only funded if money is available, how could university leaders spend money they didn’t yet have?
Because, according to a letter signed by President Ann Weaver Hart and her fellow university leaders to Rep. Keith McCall (D-Carbon), they were “urged by the governor and legislative leadership, to keep tuition increases to historically low levels.” For the full letter, see page 6.
Essentially, Harrisburg instructed the universities to take a gamble and have faith that the funds would come once lawmakers decided an appropriate amount to tax table games, such as blackjack and poker, at Pennsylvania casinos. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gov. Rendell “is vowing to veto any bill that doesn’t produce at least $200 million for the state…from table games.”
Money is scarce, and we understand the laborious pains of scrimping and saving every penny. After all, we’re college students. And, as demonstrated by the nearly two-year-old recession, spending imaginary money is never a smart move.
However, $200 million is a mere 29 percent of the $688.4 million the state owes its universities, and frankly, lawmakers responsible for managing the table-games bill are hurting not just state-related universities, but the same state they aim to protect fiscally.
The longer the table-games bill issue goes unresolved, the more time casino owners have to wait to allow the cards to be dealt, meaning the state is not receiving any tax revenue.
We understand Gov. Rendell’s reasoning behind asking lawmakers for a fixed income before relinquishing additional funds, but by urging our university’s president to skimpily raise tuition levels, he asked her to do something he is not willing to do himself.
As students nervously await their Spring 2010 semester tuition bills, which may very well be larger than the fall’s, we ask that Harrisburg take a gamble on us as well.