As the June 30 deadline approaches for the Pennsylvania Legislature to pass the state budget, Penn State President Eric Barron is cautiously optimistic that the University will receive the level funding included in the governor’s 2014-15 budget proposal in February, in spite of the serious revenue challenge the state is experiencing.
“The House Appropriations Committee has approved unanimously the bill that sets our appropriation at the proposed level, so it now is positioned to move forward for legislative action,” said Barron. “This is good news, especially since the state currently is grappling with a significant $1.5 billion estimated budget gap, and we understand the tight fiscal situation officials face.”
The legislation, House Bill 2334, sets the University’s appropriation at $214.1 million for educational general support and nearly $15.6 million for Penn College. It still must be passed by the full Legislature, and signed by Gov. Tom Corbett, before the figures can be considered final. Typically, the governor signs the main budget package before addressing the state-related universities appropriation bills.
News out of Harrisburg on June 24 was that Corbett remains optimistic that he and the Legislature can meet the deadline to have a budget passed and signed before the new fiscal year begins on July 1, but there are some sticking points between the Legislature and the governor that could cause a delay.
The timing of the state budget passage is important to the University because it is difficult to develop a specific and final budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year that addresses tuition levels and other line items without knowing the final appropriation figure the University will receive. University officials have said they will work hard to keep any tuition increase in the same zone as the last two years. The most recent tuition increase — an aggregate increase of 2.76 percent for undergraduate students — was the second lowest at the University since 1967.
The Board of Trustees passed an interim maintenance and operating budget at its May meeting. The final 2014-15 Penn State budget is scheduled for presentation to the board for approval at its next meeting, July 10-11 at Penn State Schuylkill.
If the state has not yet passed its budget when the board convenes, it is likely that the trustees will need to call a special meeting of the Board to approve the budget when the appropriation becomes final.