HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -- Republican State Senator and Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Wagner says we wants to see a crackdown on spending by the State System of Higher Education. After the organization asked for a $73 million increase in funding.
Senator Wagner questioned PASSHE representatives in budget hearings this week. He says spending in the system has gotten out of control.
The system of 14 state-owned universities is asking for $526 million in the next fiscal year, more than $15 million than what was proposed by Governor Wolf. PASSHE officials say $50 million of that will go to increased employee salaries and benefits.
Senator Wagner says those salaries and benefits are being driven up by unions, and need to be reigned in. "Your system is done in four years. You are out of runway, you are out of oxygen," said Wagner. "For those of you who think your schools are going to be around four years from now, it ain't going to be around. "
Those comments were posted on YouTube by the Pennsylvania Democrats. A spokesperson for Senator Wagner says his words were taken out of context, saying he was calling out ever higher teacher salaries due to unions. Here is the full quote from Senator Wagner: "The union bosses have made sure that everybody has been highly taken care of and they are driving you into bankruptcy. So, for those of you who think your schools are going to be around four years from now, it ain't going to be around."
Kenn Marshall, a spokeman for PASSHE says the request is not out of the ordinary. "We see the funding that we receive and that our universities receive as an investment in the Commonwealth," said Marshall. "We firmly believe that the request we're making is valid. We can support it."
The state funds about a fourth of PASSHE's budget, the rest comes from student tuition and fees. another reason the Senator says, it's time to crack down.
While PASSHE is asking for a $73 million dollar funding increase, the Governor has proposed a $15 million dollar increase. The new budget must be approved by June 30th.