UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After an extended budget stalemate, a supplemental state budget bill that includes increased funding for Penn State and Pennsylvania’s other state-related universities for the 2015-16 budget year will become law. As part of the budget deal, passed by the legislature and allowed to become law after the governor decided against a veto, Penn State will see a 5 percent increase in its general support appropriation, from $214.1 million to $224.8 million. The budget also includes $50.55 million for Agricultural Research and Extension programs at Penn State, which provide critical services to the agriculture industry and citizens in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.
“This is obviously quite a relief for Penn State and the students, faculty and staff we serve,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “State funding plays a critical role in our ability to offer an accessible, world-class education to Pennsylvanians and it also allows us to keep in operation our network of county agricultural extension services and agricultural research. We are grateful that our elected leadership in Harrisburg have reached a positive resolution to a difficult budget process.”
The supplemental budget’s passage brings to a close more than nine months of deliberation over a spending plan for the Commonwealth for fiscal year 2015-16. The appropriations are retroactive to July 2015. In addition to providing critical funding used to keep a Penn State education within reach of all qualified Pennsylvanians, the funding release also means about 1,100 faculty, staff and agricultural extension agents at University Park and across the Commonwealth will retain their positions.
“We are greatly appreciative that state funding for agricultural research and extension will be restored and, in fact, increased for the current fiscal year,” said Richard Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “Most of all, we are eternally grateful for the passionate efforts of our stakeholders in the agricultural industry, 4-H members and volunteers, Master Gardeners and other advocates who made their voices heard in every corner of the state in support of our programs. We look forward to continuing our land-grant partnership with the state as we continue to address the important food and agriculture, animal health and natural-resource issues facing Pennsylvania.”
The University continues to focus on a holistic approach to controlling the cost of a degree as part of the Plan4 Penn State initiative, enacting new programs that focus on student retention, decreasing the rate of student borrowing, and providing the necessary resources to ensure every student’s timely graduation. The effect of increased state funding on the accessibility and affordability of a Penn State degree is further amplified by Penn State’s commitment in July 2015 to hold the line on base tuition for in-state undergraduate students in the current academic year
In addition to an increase in Penn State’s general support appropriation, the Commonwealth’s budget also includes:
- A $2 million increase for Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport (a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn State) to $19.58 million.
- A $4.3 million increase for Penn State Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension, to $50.55 million. The additional funding includes a 5 percent base increase to offset rising operating costs and an additional $2 million to support the College’s work in biosecurity areas, including avian influenza research and outreach. Because agricultural research and cooperative extension activities are not supplemented with tuition, appropriations increases are necessary to keep pace with the rising cost of providing critical research and support for Pennsylvania's principal industry.
- $11.4 million in support for Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
Penn State has enacted more than $360 million in cuts to recurring costs since 1992, including $34.4 million in budget reductions and estimate adjustments in this year’s budget alone. These major initiatives have helped defray costs to students while maintaining and improving the quality of Penn State’s academic programs.
The supplemental budget marks the first increase in Penn State’s general support appropriation since 2008 and follows 2011’s across-the-board cuts in funding to higher education in Pennsylvania. Wolf has said restoration of those cuts are a priority for his administration.
Barron said he will continue to converse with the governor and legislature about funding in future years for initiatives designed to drive job creation, economic development and student career success as part of the University’s Invent Penn State initiative. The legislature and governor are the the midst of negotiations over the 2016-17 budget, which is due June 30.