Pa. Senate panel offers plan restoring Corbett’s proposed cuts to higher ed

    A Pennsylvania Senate panel has countered Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal with a plan of its own. The plan calls for returning significant funding to social service programs, schools, and especially higher education.

    Specifically, the measure restores funding for the 14 state system colleges, and three state-related schools to the current year’s levels.

    Corbett is calling for 20-percent and 30-percent cuts to those higher education institutions.

    Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Jake Corman says, in return, lawmakers asked college presidents to commit to minimize tuition increases.

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    “We went to them and said, ‘Look, we think we can do this, but we need a commitment from you to do your part. Work with us to keep tuition low for students.’ ” said Corman, R-Centre.

    College tuition hikes would be approved after the June 30 deadline to pass the state budget.

    But Corman says he’s confident any increases will be small.

    The proposal passed out of committee with unanimous, bipartisan support.

    This week, Corbett said he’s willing to adjust his own $27.14 billion spending plan in light of recent revenues that were higher than expected.

    But his spokesman has said the Senate’s proposal, which contains an extra $500 million in spending, is unsustainable.

    The increase would represent a 2 percent hike in spending over last year.

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