Penn State

Budget uncertainty complicates planning for Penn State

It’s time to start talking about budgets and such for Penn State for the 2016-17 school year.

How much money will the school take in via tuition? How much will it spend on students? What will go to new programs? What will be spent on salaries, on benefits, on dorm rooms and classrooms and labs?

And how much of that money will come from the state of Pennsylvania?

Good question, especially since we still don’t know those figures for the current school year.

The continuing budget impasse in Harrisburg has affected public schools, libraries, county services and more, everyone from preschoolers to senior citizens. Penn State is no exception.

As Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-led legislature continue their chess game, they both claim to have the same ultimate goal, the best future for Pennsylvania. Wolf sees that happening with more spending on education. The Republican leadership, including state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, sees it happening through lower spending and more attention to the state’s pension problem.

But ultimately, it has meant programs that didn’t get money when they were supposed to get it.

Penn State did not have the funds at the start of the school year to turn over to students who needed it for their education expenses.

The university froze in-state tuition for the school year in a historic move. However, the school still doesn’t know, six months after the start of the stand-off, exactly how much money it will be receiving from Harrisburg and how much it will have to make up to balance that freeze.

On Monday, the House will convene at 1 p.m. with a vote on the table. Senate Bill 912 would appropriate funding for Penn State. Similar votes are on deck for other state-related schools Temple, Pitt and Lincoln.

President Eric Barron told trustees in November that he plans on a zero increase to tuition again for 2016-17.

But with 2015 finished, let’s take care of the 2015-16 budget first.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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