PA House Stalls Over Funding Temple, Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Spotlight

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HARRISBURG — After repeated legislative failures, Pennsylvania congressmen left Harrisburg indefinitely without allowing federal funding for state-affiliated colleges.

Appropriations for Lincoln, Pennsylvania State, Temple, and the University of Pittsburgh must be passed by a two-thirds majority in the Democratic-controlled state legislature, which is a tall order. Democratic leaders in the state legislature ended Friday’s meeting without a resolution, blaming Republicans for the deadlock.

House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) said, “Frankly, it’s because the absence of a Republican leader didn’t cross the line.” “I look forward to seeing them come to their senses.”

Congress passed a bill to provide state funding to these four universities during summer budget negotiations, but negotiations have stalled so far this year and are currently stalled.The Republican-controlled state Senate seceded from Harrisburg earlier this week without submitting the required signatures to the main budgetDemocrat Gov. Josh Shapiro’s protests vow to veto the school voucher program he had previously supported.

Mr Bradford said the negotiations over the university, and the entire stalled budget, needed to be “reset”. The state legislature has not set a date for his return.

A House Republican spokesperson referred to comments made on the floor Thursday by House Minority Leader Brian Cutler (R, Lancaster) calling for changes to how state universities are governed.

“My friends across the aisle just say, ‘We’re good enough, let’s pay for it,'” Cutler said. “The truth is, we can provide funding and we can deliver reforms.”

Bradford told reporters that Republicans should have pursued these reforms during more than a decade in control of both Congresses.

The college funding bill has been defeated twice in the past two weeks, first by 18 votes and then six short of the 136 votes required for a two-thirds majority in the House.

Following Thursday’s recent setback, Democrats stepped up efforts to mobilize Republican votes by offering Republican lawmakers funding for projects in their districts in exchange for their support, said state Rep. Aaron Bernstein. (Republican, Lawrence) told Spotlight Pennsylvania.

Bernstein said the meeting took place on both Thursday and Friday, and a Penn State University lobbyist was also in the room for the conversation. Another Republican congressman confirmed the explanation.

“It’s completely reprehensible that votes are being rewarded,” Bernstein said in a text message. “This represents politics at its worst, and is the very reason hard-working Pennsylvanians don’t trust Harrisburg.”

Democratic leaders in the state legislature first introduced stand-alone bills providing about $170 million and $162 million for Mr. Temple and Mr. Pitt, respectively, but both were defeated. A bill was passed that provided Lincoln with $16 million. Another proposal to allocate funds to Pennsylvania State University failed to get on the ballot.

After those initial failures, state legislative leaders combined funding for all four colleges into one bill. It failed too.

The bill would provide just over $640 million in aid to four state universities in the Commonwealth, up more than 7 percent from last year. This money has historically subsidized tuition fees for in-state students at educational institutions.

This isn’t the first time funding for these schools has turned into political football.

The requirement that these expenditures require the support of two-thirds of the state legislatures allows minority members of Congress to go to great lengths to extract concessions from legislative leaders. That’s what happened this year. A group of the House’s most conservative lawmakers opposed funding colleges for reasons related to political topics, but a group of more mainstream lawmakers also argued for a tuition freeze and greater transparency at colleges. .

The most important of these coalitions is the Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers who call themselves the Congressional Freedom Caucus.

In 2021, before the caucuses formally convened, many later lawmakers withheld funding for Penn Medicine, citing the health system’s need for a COVID-19 vaccine. threatened to do so.And last year the state budget was partially delayed About Fetal Tissue Research in the pit.

In this session, Freedom Caucus Republicans like Mr. Bernstein said the Pennsylvania State Health Center and other medical centers are working with state-affiliated colleges to prescribe puberty inhibitors to children under the age of 10. claimed.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said the drug Bernstein and other members of the Freedom Caucus are referring to is used to treat precocious puberty in children under the age of 10, not gender dysphoria.

Freedom Caucus Only 16 members are listed Online is not enough to win two-thirds of the votes in the House. But Bernstein’s concerns also included issues that his Republican colleagues outside of the caucus would prefer.

“These state universities have quite a few issues,” Bernstein told Spotlight PA. “There is a lack of transparency and a failure to do so through the Pennsylvania Right to Know Act. Additionally, the consistent increase in tuition fees at these colleges is a problem for families, suppression of free speech, etc. , and a lot of other things going on.”

State Rep. Ryan Warner (Fayette, Republican), who is not named as a member of the Liberal Congress, also condemned the university’s exclusion from the federal Archives Act.

“These are de facto private universities,” he said on the floor of the state legislature on Thursday. “How can anyone say they need to sit here and donate hundreds of millions of dollars to colleges and have no idea how they are spending it?”

Throughout this year’s debate over college funding, Republicans have also broadly opposed increasing state funding to colleges, as most schools have refused to commit to a full freeze on tuition.

State Rep. David Lowe (R-Union), a member of the Freedom Caucus, argued that it would not be fair to taxpayers for a state-affiliated agency to accept increased funding while refusing to freeze tuition.

In a text message, Mr. Lowe said, “Despite the fact that state agencies have received hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies in recent years, they have doubled taxpayers by raising tuition each year. benefited from,” he said.

Democrats asked their partner countries for additional funding, arguing that the money would help reduce student tuition fees and reduce student-loan debt.

Rep. Donna Bullock (D, Philadelphia), chairman of the Black Caucus of Pennsylvania, repeated Temple founder Russell Conwell’s famous speech during her remarks on the floor.

“We have diamonds in our backyards here in Pennsylvania,” Block said, referring to college students in the state. “We refuse to invest in those diamonds. We fail to invest in our children and young people.”

Universities are largely reluctant to freeze tuition fees. Patrick Gallagher, president of the University of Pittsburgh He told lawmakers at a state budget hearing. Universities need to consider “the budget holistically,” he said.

Lincoln University President Brenda Allen said at a state budget hearing that the university needs to be able to adjust tuition because tuition is the source of 70% of the university budget. Still, a spokeswoman for the school told Spotlight PA that since 2014, the university has committed not to raise individual student tuition fees during their four-year enrollment.

Republicans said Lincoln University is the only state university fully committed to freezing tuition this year if the school receives increased funding. PA has not confirmed this). For this reason, Lowe and many other Republicans voted in favor of Lincoln’s spending when funding for all schools was considered separately.

Temple, Pitt, and Pennsylvania State University are among the most expensive public universities in the nation for students in the state. According to US News & World Report. State universities raised tuition fees last year.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is one of the most affordable states in the country for higher education, according to a survey. 2016 survey By the University of Pennsylvania.

Throughout the funding debate, Democrats repeatedly argued that cutting state funding to four state-affiliated colleges would only make Pennsylvania’s position worse.

State House Appropriations Chairman Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia) said, “Education is not the elevator out of poverty, nor is it going to fund the maintenance of that elevator for young people. ‘ said. “You can’t tell our young people to pull themselves up with boot straps, but please stop giving them dung-on boots and straps.”

Samuel O’Neill is an intern at the Pennsylvania State Law Correspondents’ Association. Learn more about the program. Spotlight PA Funders are: foundation and readers like you People committed to responsible journalism that gets results. PA House Stalls Over Funding Temple, Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Spotlight

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