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General Assembly Passes Appropriation Bill for Penn State

by on October 26, 2017 2:54 PM

There will be no mid-year tuition hike for Penn State students.

Nearly four months after the start of the current fiscal year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the non-preferred appropriations bill which provides state funding for Penn State and the three other state-related universities. The move comes as the state house also approved a state revenue bill that, pending Gov. Tom Wolf's signature, will complete the commonwealth's budget for the year.

Penn State leaders have been urging legislators to move forward with an appropriations bill, and two weeks ago said that if the university did not receive any state funding this year they would consider the unprecedented step of a tuition "surcharge" for the spring semester to make up the budget gap.

That won't be necessary now as the university received a total appropriation of $318 million, including $230.4 for general support, which funds the educational mission and allows for the in-state student tuition discount.

“In light of the state’s current fiscal climate, we appreciate the support provided to Penn State and higher education by both the Legislature and the governor,” Penn State President Eric Barron said. “Penn State’s general support appropriation directly impacts thousands of Pennsylvania families each year, as it is used to keep tuition lower for Pennsylvania students. Ensuring that a high-quality education remains affordable for Pennsylvania’s working families is one of the University’s top priorities, and state support plays a critical role in assuring that a Penn State education remains accessible to the Commonwealth’s best and brightest students.”

The general support appropriation represents flat funding from a year ago, as the university had been expecting since Wolf proposed a budget in February and legislators began working toward a bill. But as the months dragged on past the July 1 deadline, university officials became increasingly concerned by the lack of appropriations, pleading with representatives to approve funding and encouraging the university community to contact legislators.

The state senate had approved the appropriations bill in July, but the house had been at an impasse since then.

Last week, Wolf, too, urged lawmakers to send a non-preferred appropriations bill to his desk.

Penn State said nearly 10,000 people contacted legislators to voice their support for the university.

In addition to flat funding for general support, Penn State received a $2 million increase for the Pennsylvania College of Technology, bringing its appropriation to $22 million. Penn State Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension got a $500,000 increase for a total of $52.3 million, and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center received level funding of $13.4 million.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, said he didn't expect the state budget to take so long to be completed, and doesn't want to see it happen again.

“The decisions were difficult, and so it just took a while to get to a compromise,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said in a short press conference earlier. “I think pretty clearly we won’t do spending without revenue again. I thought that would sort of be quick to put together. It clearly wasn’t.”

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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