Penn State

Penn State funding gets small boost from state

The governor and state lawmakers kept their promise to Penn State, and now it’s the university’s turn.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed on Monday the bill that authorizes a total of $282 million for Penn State and keeps the lion’s share of the funding, which reduces tuition costs for in-state students, at $214 million, the same level as the fiscal year that just ended. Penn State promised to keep the tuition increase for the coming school year as low as possible in exchange for flat funding.

“We appreciate the efforts of the state legislature and the governor to maintain level funding for Penn State, during a period when the state’s economy is still struggling,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement released by the university Monday afternoon.

For Penn State, this year’s annual budget process and waiting game did not have the uncertainty as years past. Gone was the threat of huge cuts, such as the proposed 50 percent cut for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Instead, Corbett unveiled his budget proposal in February side by side with university administrators from across the state and said he had secured promises of modest tuition increases in exchange for flat funding.

Penn State administrators will present the proposed tuition rates next week at the university’s board of trustees meeting at the Fayette campus in Uniontown.

Corbett’s proposal had $279 million going to Penn State, and the $282 million represents a $3.5 million increase.

The College of Agricultural Sciences will receive $46.2 million, which is an increase of $1.5 million over last year. That money goes toward agricultural research and the college’s Cooperative Extension.

It was not immediately known how that surplus would be used, but the college’s interim dean, Barbara Christ, said she was “very pleased” with the news.

“This is a positive statement regarding the work we do and speaks to the need for these programs in helping to ensure a safe and abundant food supply and vibrant agricultural economy in Pennsylvania,” Christ said.

Penn State got almost $15.6 million for the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, and that figure is $2 million more compared with last year.

The last chunk of state funding, $6.5 million, is headed to the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Over the past 20 years, Penn State has cut almost $238 million in recurring costs from its operating budget, and that includes $67 million in cuts to recurring costs since 2008.

As a result, the university eliminated hundreds of jobs through layoffs and attrition, instituted salary freezes two times in four years, and cut academic programs. Penn State is two years removed from a $68 million reduction in state funding that was precipitated by the economic downturn.