Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his proposed 2017-18 commonwealth budget Feb. 7, recommending a third straight year of increased funding for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
The governor’s proposal would provide the State System about $453.1 million next year to help fund the operations of the 14 state-owned universities, an increase of almost $9 million from the current year’s funding level.
"We are so appreciative that both the governor and the General Assembly recognize the immense value of the State System and continue to support our universities and our students," said Board of Governors chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira. "That support represents an important investment in Pennsylvania's future, one that pays huge dividends for the entire commonwealth."
A recent economic impact study estimates that the State System generates $11 in economic activity across Pennsylvania for every dollar it receives in state funding — an annual impact of nearly $7 billion.
"Even as we seek greater investment from the commonwealth, the State System is undertaking an in-depth, strategic review to examine every aspect of how we are organized — from top to bottom — for the purpose of positioning our universities for a vibrant future," Shapira said.
In addition to the base appropriation recommended by the governor, the State System also would receive an estimated $17.1 million next year from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund to help pay for deferred maintenance of campus facilities. The fund is supported through a portion of the state's realty transfer tax.
The governor presented his third budget proposal Tuesday morning to a joint session of the legislature, meeting in the House of Representatives. The separate House and Senate appropriations committees will hold a series of public hearings on the spending plan later this month. State System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan and other system representatives will appear before both committees Feb. 23 to discuss the proposed 2017-18 commonwealth budget and the system's own funding request.
A final version of the budget is due on the governor's desk by June 30.
"The increased funding recommended by Gov. Wolf would be welcome during these extremely challenging times," said Brogan, who attended the budget address as a guest of the governor. "We are grateful for his support and for that of the General Assembly, especially at a time when the commonwealth is facing significant challenges of its own.
"This new investment would help our universities continue to provide high-quality, high-value and affordable educational opportunities to our students — helping to secure a brighter future not just for them, but for all Pennsylvanians."