Governor Wolf’s budget proposal calls for an appropriation of just over $230 million for the state’s community colleges. It’s the same as the last two years, and community college officials are saying that’s not good enough.
“Pennsylvania’s community colleges are the largest provider of public, post-secondary education in Pennsylvania,” said Elizabeth Bolden, President & CEO, PA Commission for Community Colleges.
Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges enroll more than 300,000 students every year, with an average annual full-time tuition of just under $4,000.
“Yet, they are the most significantly underfunded sector of our education system,” said Bolden.
The Governor’s proposed budget for 2018-19 calls for the same appropriation for community colleges that was asked for in the 2016-17 budget.
Bolden says they were the only education sector not to receive an increase last year, and it’s caused them to fall behind with inflation.
“Without increased funding, the colleges are forced to decide what they are going to cut, instead of what they’re going to start offering in new programs, to meet emerging workforce needs,” said Bolden.
A spokesperson for the Governor’s Office says his proposed budget, “Protected existing funding for community colleges and the state-related universities.” He also points to the “PA Smart Workforce Initiative” which he says includes millions of dollars community colleges could seek.
Bolden says they are now asking for a $10.6 million increase. The budget is due June 30th.