Legislature Authorizes Education Funding, Wolf Needs to Act

While expressing relief that funding for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities was finally approved today by the House, Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks) shared her frustration that it took this long to reach an agreement. 

Quinn, the parent of a student attending a state-related university, said she knows firsthand the difficulty caused by the delay in the release of funds. 

“Today’s appropriation for state-related universities is nine months late and took place only after students, parents and administrators endured a semester and a half of worry and uncertainty,” said Quinn.  “It marks the third time I voted to release this funding, but the first time the required two-thirds majority vote was met.  This action was long overdue. 

Quinn added, “Because the higher education funding bills already passed the Senate, they will go straight to the governor's desk for his signature or his veto. It is my sincere hope that Gov. Wolf will recognize the urgent need for this money to be released – funding that exceeds last year allocation by more than 5 percent.” 

Pennsylvania classifies public universities in two categories: state-owned and state-related. The latter, while technically independent institutions, have a special relationship with the Commonwealth and receive some public financing. They include Penn State, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) School of Veterinary Medicine, Temple, the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and Lincoln. 

While the Legislature was able to pass funding for its state-owned institutions last year, votes to fund Pitt, Temple, Penn State, the UPenn Veterinary School and Lincoln repeatedly fell short.  While all House Republicans previously voted to fund the state-related schools, it wasn’t until today that a sufficient number of House Democrats broke ranks with their leadership to reach the two-thirds majority threshold. 

Quinn posted a chart on her website, detailing the overall 5.3 percent increase in funding allocated to these institutions.  It can be accessed by visiting www.RepQuinn.net and clicking “Education Funding.” 

The House also approved legislation (House Bill 1801) Wednesday to restore funding to K-12 education that was cut when Gov. Tom Wolf issued a line-item veto of the 2015-16 budget on Dec. 29. 

“We’re now in an unprecedented situation,” said Quinn. “The governor’s office has sent notices to schools instructing them on how to shut down.  It’s unthinkable, especially when as of Feb. 29, there was $1.5 billion in the state treasury just waiting to be driven out to school districts.  The governor needs to sign this bill, secure funding for schools for the remainder of this year, and work with the Legislature on the upcoming 2016-17 budget.  We have the money to do this. Let’s get that money to our schools today.” 

Quinn’s comments on K-12 education funding and the passage of House Bill 1801 can be seen here: