HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM)– Lawmakers have left Harrisburg without a fully completed budget. Also left in a lurch, funding for so-called state-related universities like Penn State and Pitt.
Cash for those schools requires a two-thirds vote in the legislature and a handful of House Republicans are just saying no.
“Madam Speaker, I urge a no vote on this massive combined college funding bill,” State Rep. Eric Nelson, R-Westmoreland County, said in a college-level debate over funding.
“And every member needs to consider what the impact of their vote will be today. Will they play politics with student tuition,” State Rep. Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) said.
House Bill 612 would give state funding hikes for four state-related schools and each would see an increase:
- Penn State: $17 million increase
- Temple: $11 million increase
- Pitt: $10 million increase
- Lincoln: $4 million increase
It needed a two-thirds majority in the House. Every Democrat voted yes but it fell six votes short.
“I don’t understand how Republicans didn’t vote for it,” the Chairman of Pa. House Education Committee Peter Schweyer said. “It was shocking to me but at this point in time I don’t know what to expect from them anymore.”
Republicans are upset that state universities wouldn’t promise to freeze tuition if they got the increases they wanted.
“How do you go back and tell those parents,” Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York) said. “Well, you know what? We gave them 7% more above the rate of inflation, and they’re still going to raise tuition rates. So to compound it, why are these parents not taking a step back and saying enough is enough?”
“My father was a high school dropout, Dennis,” Schweyer said. “I’m a first-generation high school and college graduate and I wouldn’t have been able to go to college if the public wouldn’t have invested in me.”
State Rep. Peter Schweyer is a Penn State grad who Chairs the House Education Committee. He says holding back dollars that are used to offset tuition for in-state students fails both logic and math.
“You are not gonna address the concern of lower cost college by not funding colleges. It’s a dumb stupid argument that is counterintuitive,” Schweyer said.
On Monday afternoon, Penn State released a statement regarding the funding fight:
“We are disappointed with the outcome of the House vote, as this funding directly supports Penn State’s discounted in-state tuition rate, which thousands of Pennsylvania students and their families rely on each year. With an enrollment of more than 40,000 Pennsylvania resident students across 20 undergraduate campuses, we look forward to continued conversations with lawmakers about how this funding represents an investment in our young people, our communities, and the commonwealth’s long-term economic prosperity.”Penn State University
But at the moment the math that matters is two-thirds of the House and at the moment the vote and the funding aren’t there.
But at the moment the math that matters is thirds of the House and at the moment the vote and the funding aren’t there officially, the House and Senate aren’t scheduled back until September. Unofficially, there’s still much budget work to be done and they’ll have to return to finish it.