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Tell Governor Corbett NOT to cut Pennsylvania's higher education budget by 50%

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"In a year of budget cuts, Gov. Tom Corbett's decision to dropkick higher education and Penn State is an unfortunate move that must be corrected quickly by the General Assembly.

Corbett, in his widely anticipated first budget, uncorked a spending plan that spreads the pain in many cases but gut punches state universities and state-related universities with massive cuts of more than 50 percent of their state appropriation.

For Penn State, it would mean a decline of $182 million, or 52 percent, of what it gets from Harrisburg. And while a cut like that would lead to big changes at the university, it would hit hard on families paying for an all-important education and on Pennsylvania's very future.

Corbett clearly wants to start a discussion about the state's role in higher education, and here's what he said in his budget address Tuesday:

"This fiscal crisis is a time to rethink state spending on higher education. Despite state subsidies over the past decades, tuition has continued to increase. If the intent was to keep tuition rates down, it failed. We need to find a new model. When it comes to higher education we should do the same thing that we do in basic education: The dollars should follow the student. It's their money."

That's a fair topic, but in going about introducing it Corbett took a wrong turn. Incredibly, neither he nor Centre County's State Sen. Jake Corman took time to warn Penn State and the other colleges of the impending deep cut. They just slashed at their funding level, in the biggest budget attack on higher education in the country.

"No warning. Not a single phone call," said Penn State President Graham Spanier last week.

In this budget year the university should be expected to take some kind of a hit, and Spanier said officials "fully expected to have to participate in helping Pennsylvania solve" its budget deficit.

But Corbett's hit is too massive too soon, and it could force sweeping layoffs, campus closures and other cutbacks at Penn State and skyrocketing tuition bills for families." Read more of this article


"Pennsylvania's new Republican governor is under fire for proposing the nation's biggest cuts in higher education - more than 50 percent for some universities - while refusing to tax the gas drilling that is fast becoming one of the state's largest industries.


"This is the most irrational public policy I've ever seen in my life," Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach said Thursday. "He's supposed to be fighting for Pennsylvania. He's saying that Pennsylvania can't have this money."Some critics of Gov. Tom Corbett are frustrated that he won't tap such a rich source of tax revenue when the state is looking at a projected deficit next year of $4 billion.

Corbett has a long opposed any tax on the gas extracted from the rich deposit known as the Marcellus Shale, and he repeated that stand Tuesday in the same speech in which he outlined the cuts in education. He said a tax would hinder the growth of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania and prevent the state from becoming the national hub of the industry.

"Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of the natural gas boom," he urged lawmakers. "I'm determined that Pennsylvania not lose this moment. We have the chance to get it right the first time, the chance to grow our way out of the hard days."

Corbett contends the industry has already plowed billions of dollars into the state, spawned economic booms in some of Pennsylvania's most depressed areas and generated new revenue from the income, sales and other existing taxes. Pennsylvania is the largest gas-producing state without a gas extraction tax.

In the $27.3 billion budget he presented to lawmakers, Corbett proposed slashing spending on higher education by $644 million, including a more than 50 percent reduction for the 18 state-supported universities and colleges, which include Penn State, Pittsburgh and Temple. He also proposed a $1 billion cut for Pennsylvania's public schools.

"Despite state subsidies over the past decades, tuition has continued to increase," the governor said. "If the intent was to keep tuition rates down, it failed. We need to find a new model." Students, faculty members and administrators are mobilizing to convince lawmakers, many of whom are on their side, that the cuts are unreasonable.

What effect the cuts would have on the campuses remains unclear, although tuition increases are likely and the closing of some of Penn State's 24 satellite campuses is possible, officials said. Penn State has 87,000 students all together.

"Everything is on the table," said Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers." Read more of this article


Corbett has his own vested interests in the Marcellus Shale debacle. Via PHILLY.COM:

"During his state budget address, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said he'd form a committee to study the impact of natural gas drilling. It will officially make recommendations after 120 days.


But an analysis from the Harrisburg Patriot News suggests that the results may be a foregone conclusion  . A big chunk of the 30-member commission is made up of folks inclined to side with big natural gas drillers.

The group includes 13 people with ties to the gas industry and only four environmentalists. The others are state and local government officials and a geologist.

The other major trend in appointments? Campaign contributors:

Thirteen of the members contributed a total of $557,000 to Mr. Corbett's political campaigns since 2008; 12 have ties with companies whose executives or political action committees contributed another $562,000; one is the son of a $300,000 contributor. All together that amounted to just over $1.4 million."

Read the rest of this article here.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Corbett's suggestion for floundering schools under the budget cut? DRILL FOR GAS BELOW CAMPUS. No, really. He actually said that. Here, look: Corbett suggests schools drill for gas


Tell Governor Corbett that cutting the budget for higher education is a disastrous move for current and future college students.


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