Pa. Senate’s appropriations chairman challenges Corbett on cuts to higher ed

    The chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate’s Appropriations Committee has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed cuts to higher education funding.

    “We’re going to work on the premise that we can restore that to zero,” Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, said Monday of the budget cuts.

    Corman, whose district includes Penn State, says he won’t stand for double-digit cuts in state aid to higher education.

    The Corbett administration says money that goes to the state’s semi-public and public universities and community colleges represents some of the only remaining discretionary funding in the more than $27 billion budget.

    And with revenues down, the governor says he hardly has a choice but to scale back.

    But Corman said if Corbett’s proposed cuts are passed this year, there’s reason to think more severe cuts to state aid could be in store for the future.

    “If we truly want these to continue to be public universities, then I look forward, at the state-related level, at the state system level, and the community college level, to restoring all these cuts because I think higher education’s done enough,” Corman said.

    If the state Legislature was able to negotiate proposed higher ed cuts last year from 50 percent down to around 20 percent, they can prevent the remaining 30 percent from being slashed this year.

    Corbett is calling for deep cuts to three of the four state-related universities, as well as the 14 State System of Higher Education schools, and community colleges.

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