In Harrisburg, students stage pre-emptive rally against budget cuts

    Students from Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities rallied in Harrisburg Tuesday to let officials know they are concerned over potential funding cuts. Gov. Tom Corbett will make his budget address next week.

    The rally was part plea, part coffee house — fierce chants, poetry, a few songs.

    Just one problem: Neither the House nor the Senate is in session this week, and lawmakers are scarce.

    Alex McNeil, a Temple University student, noted the presence of the House Education Committee Chairman, Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, the lone legislator to show up for the rally.

    “I will give some credit, this does not entirely fall on deaf ears. Mr. Chairman, thank you for being here,” said McNeil.

    Clymer, who was in Harrisburg for a staff meeting, said he’s not sure what the future holds for higher education.

    Corbett, who will outline his budget proposal Feb. 7, last year proposed a 50 percent reduction in state aid for higher education.

    Temple University student Elliot Griffin, who heads the Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Students, or PASS, was in Harrisburg for the rally.

    “PASS includes the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, Lincoln, and of course, Temple U. We were created last year when we realized everyone didn’t recognize the importance of funding our respective universities,” she said.

    In the budget freeze implemented in January, state-related universities were hit with a 5 percent cut in state funding.

    That meant more than $25 million in cuts for Penn State, which saw its funding cut by 32 percent in last year’s budget.

    Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln saw their state funding cut by 19 percent last year.

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