As Budget-Appropriations Hearings Loom, APSCUF Emphasizes Importance of Funding for State System Funding

MashHARRISBURG, Pa. – State System representatives will appear before the Senate and House appropriations committees on Thursday, February 23. This is the next step in the budget process that the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties hopes will result in increased funding for Pennsylvania’s public universities.

(Pictured above: APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash at podium)

Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors requested a 2017–18 appropriation of $505.2 million, an increase of $61 million. In his address this month, Gov. Tom Wolf announced $8.9 million more for our 14 universities in his budget proposal.

State System Chancellor Frank Brogan, Bloomsburg University President David Soltz, and Logan Steigerwalt, Board of Governors nominee and Slippery Rock University student, will respond to legislators’ questions at the hearings. APSCUF representatives will attend and tweet from the hearings, but they will not be able to testify.

“After last year’s House and Senate hearings, we hope to see an increased understanding of the importance of our public universities in Pennsylvania,” APSCUF President Dr. Kenneth M. Mash said.

“We know the State System is embarking on a study of our universities and their operations. We firmly believe each of our 14 universities serves a vital purpose within its community and, most important, to our students. Cheyney University, for example, plays an important role in our system and in propelling its students upward.”

When it comes to mobility rates, Cheyney ranks the highest among Pennsylvania’s 14 public universities, according to data reported in The New York Times last month.

“Our universities, which began as normal schools and an HBCU, have been the places where working families could affordably have an opportunity to achieve the ‘American Dream,’” Mash said. “Increased tuition, fees, and housing costs now stand in the way of that opportunity, and what is at risk is the future of an entire generation. Pennsylvania needs to restore its commitment to the people’s universities.”

Heading into this budget season, APSCUF launched a campaign to underscore the importance of funding for Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities. Using the hashtag #fundPAfuture, APSCUF has presented statistics and articles underscoring the importance of public higher education — not only to improve the lives of individual students but to benefit the entire Commonwealth. The statistics, developed with the State System, include:

– Every $1 the Commonwealth invests in your State System generates $11 in local and state economic impact. Nearly 90 percent of our students are Pennsylvanians, and the vast majority remain in the Commonwealth, where they continue to purchase, invest, and pay taxes.

– By 2020, more than 60 percent of jobs will require at least some postsecondary education; one-third of the state’s projected job openings will require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

– Pennsylvania residents who receive scholarships and grants can attend one of our universities for about $4,000 less per year than other public bachelor’s-degree-granting universities.

Faculty, coaches, students, and supporters can reach out to committee members to urge fair funding for our universities.

APSCUF represents about 5,500 faculty and coaches at the State System universities: Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania.

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