HARRISBURG — Gov. Edward G. Rendell today issued the following statement regarding funding for higher education:
“I am pleased that this year’s budget discussion is increasingly emphasizing the importance of higher education access and affordability, especially in this economic crisis.
“Chairman Dwight Evans and the House Democratic leadership have offered exactly the kind of bold and creative thinking we need to solve big challenges. I urge all parties involved in negotiating this budget to give this proposal serious consideration. I join Chairman Evans in making clear that one principle we all must agree upon is that we cannot have a final state budget without providing for proper funding for educating our young people including, of course, public higher education in Pennsylvania.
“Our funding for public colleges and universities and PHEAA grants create opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to go to college every year. State funding for public higher education and financial aid is an essential ingredient in making Pennsylvania globally competitive. We have increased funding for higher education by nearly $200 million since I took office to make sure that we have accessible, affordable opportunities for those who want to pursue a college degree. We must continue moving in the right direction.
“The U.S. Department of Education’s decision that Pennsylvania should amend its State Fiscal Stabilization Fund stimulus plan provides an additional opportunity to address higher education. The department has reinforced the state’s ability to decide how to allocate federal funds among the State System of Higher Education, the community colleges, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology and the four state-related universities; and we remain committed to using those funds where they can have the most impact.”