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Friday, July 10, 2009

14 Members of Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation Sign Thompson/Holden Letter to Education Secretary on Funds for Universities

PSU-UPB Affected Locally
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Representatives Glenn `GT’ Thompson, R-Howard, and Tim Holden, D- St. Clair, today sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asking the Department to examine Pennsylvania’s latest application for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds. Governor Ed Rendell has denied these funds to Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, and Lincoln University.

The letter, signed by 14 of the 19 members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, was in response to the decision by the Governor to exclude these four universities from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ARRA, stimulus funding.

The letter states: “We strongly believe that by following the spirit and intent of the ARRA, the Department of Education will reject the application in current form, and compel the Commonwealth to use federal funds to maintain state support for every public institution of higher education in Pennsylvania, including the state-related universities.”

“The Governor has denied almost $42 million to these four universities in their recent application to the Department of Education using the flimsy excuse that they should be excluded because they `are not under the absolute control of the Commonwealth’,” said Thompson.

Here is his rationale for the change of mind:

“The Commonwealth’s `state-related universities’ are excluded from all calculations for purposes of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. While these four institutions receive limited taxpayer support, they do so through a `non-preferred appropriation,’ which is defined as `an appropriation to any charitable or educational institution not under the absolute control of the Commonwealth.”

The letter notes that the ARRA clearly contains language that states are to provide funds to public institutions of higher education. It further reads that federal funds are to be used to shield students at schools supported by state tax dollars from unreasonable tuition increases due to fiscal pressures current economic conditions have placed on state budgets. With the Commonwealth’s decision, its actions may actually be the cause of an increase in student tuition.

The universities in question play an important role as public institutions of higher education in both statutory and case law in Pennsylvania. The letter reads, “We have concern that it is not within the Commonwealth’s power to subjectively alter the legal status of institutions because they do not exercise `absolute control’ over these institutions.”

“Based on the cuts the Governor intends to make to the Universities, Penn State and Pittsburgh are looking at both tuition increases and layoffs,” said Thompson. “During an economic downturn, forcing an institution to raise tuition is not a sound move by the Governor and the results could be less student enrollment and less income to the State.”

The signers of the letter, in addition to Thompson and Holden, are Representatives:

Jason Altmire, Robert A. Brady, Christopher Carney, Kathleen A. Dahlkemper, Charles W. Dent, Michael F. Doyle, Jim Gerlach, Patrick J. Murphy, Tim Murphy, Todd Russell Platts, , Joe Sestak and Bill Shuster.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Good move, "GT" ! Where does Rendell think that money comes from in the first place? It's not his money, nor is it Pennsylvania's it came from us, the taxpayers. As the father of a student at Pitt, I want those funds in question to go where they should.