He called it a house of cards.
He called it “legislative malpractice.”
Former lieutenant governor Robert Jubelirer had a lot of things to say about the Pennsylvania budget. None of them were flattering.
He made the comments to his fellow Penn State trustees at an outreach, development and community relations meeting after Zack Moore, the vice president for government and community relations, finished talking about the budget.
Moore was happy to report that there was a budget. At previous meetings, when the subject came up, he would just update the committee about the ongoing negotiations in Harrisburg, and the continuing lack of knowledge about where the budget was headed or when it would be passed.
According to Penn State, the legislature includes $230.4 million for the university’s general support appropriation. That is the same amount received last year.
But the plan in place now worries Jubelirer, who spent years in the Senate as an active part of the budget process. He worries about the legality of using funds from Pennsylvania’s historic tobacco settlement, money earmarked for health care, to balance unrelated spending.
“I think that’s going to get struck down,” he said.
He’s worried about the continuing inability to find a middle ground on the issues, and the importance of the state’s appropriation to Penn State, the commonwealth’s land-grant university.
“It’s a very concerning thing, so we have to think outside the box,” Jubelirer said.
What he doesn’t want to happen is to see the full-tilt push that Penn State made — to make sure that the importance of the university as both an educational institution and an economic engine be appreciated — fall by the way side, especially in 2018.
“It’s an election year next year,” he said, “and it’s going to be one hell of an election year.”
Moore said the university is not pulling back.
“It’s only going to get tougher with some of the budget implications we are facing,” he said.
Trustee Jay Paterno wants to see partnership with the other state-related schools — Pitt, Temple and Lincoln — to keep the higher education needs in the forefront. Moore said that is already an effort underway.
Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding is an ex officio member of the board. He thinks the university navigated the negotiations well, but he agreed with Jubelirer.
“Don’t turn it off,” he said. “We’re just 90 days out for the next budget being introduced.”