Penn State is getting paid.
After months of delay, the Pennsylvania General Assembly finally came to an agreement on the non-preferred appropriations bill Wednesday.
“Non-preferred appropriations” refer to any spending for a charity or educational facility the state has to pay for but doesn’t completely control. The funding for the state-related universities — Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln — are part of that.
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. Penn College of Technology in Williamsport received an increase of $2 million while Penn State Agriculture Research and Cooperative Extension was upped by $500,000, bringing the total to $318.2 million.
Penn State President Eric Barron said that he appreciated the support, particularly in light of the state’s current financial situation, what state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman called a $2.2 billion hole that needs to be filled.
“Penn State’s general support appropriation directly impacts thousands of Pennsylvania families each year, as it is used to keep tuition lower for Pennsylvania students. Ensuring that a high-quality education remains affordable for Pennsylvania’s working families is one of the university’s top priorities, and state support plays a critical role in assuring that a Penn State education remains accessible to the commonwealth’s best and brightest students,” he said.
The move means the university will not have to increase tuition for the second half of the school year. A mid-year surcharge had been on the table as a means of dealing with the shortfall in funding without the state’s money. Penn State had instituted an average increase of 2.45 percent in July, with tuition at eight campuses — Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Alleghenies, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Wilkes-Barre and Shenango — frozen for the third consecutive year.
The bill came after months of haggling. The state passed a budget in June but didn’t work out how to fund it. That has kept legislators and the governor’s office negotiating, but recent movement has looked promising.
“It just took a while to get to a compromise,” Corman said in a press conference Wednesday. “This isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. This isn’t what we in the Senate Republican caucus would have preferred, but it’s something the House can pass. ... That’s where we are.”
Barron issued a request earlier in the month that implored the House of Representatives to break the impasse.
Additional components of the budget funding are still being addressed.
“We’re trying to look at everything in its totality to see if we can put a package completely together,” Corman told the Centre Daily Times last week.