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Bi-partisan state Senate effort to allow schools to leave PASSH - abc27 WHTM

Bi-partisan state Senate effort to allow schools to leave PASSHE

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

A bi-partisan group of state senators gathered at the Capitol to talk about the importance of Senate Bill 1275. If passed, the bill would allow a university to leave the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Schools would have to meet certain criteria to qualify to become a state-related university, including having a student enrollment of more than 7,000 and contribute to pension obligations of their current employees.

State Senator Tommy Tomlinson from Bucks County, a graduate of West Chester University, is leading the charge.  He says PASSHEE needs help for schools to succeed long term.

"I think we have a train wreck coming," said Tomlinson, "I think we should do something about that, and I think we should have had this discussion a couple years ago."

State Representative Mike Hanna, the House Democratic whip, does not support the bill.  Representative Hanna is also a PASSHE board member and he says opting out is not a long-term solution and he cited other states and an example. 

"The partial re-organization of systems in other states, like Virginia and Texas, serve as a crystal ball for the Commonwealth," said Hanna.  "In both states, tuition increased at flagship institutions, while student services declined."

Supporters of Senate Bill 1275 say there will always be a tuition increase, but schools that opt out would keep their increases in line to remain competitive.

If the legislation passes, union contracts will be honored until they expire.  Universities would negotiate new agreements with their employees.

 

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