Higher Education

Governor Wolf made education a priority in his first term and this year is no different as he continues to call for new investments in education. However, when stacked up beside what Pennsylvania actually needs to create quality public education for everyone, void of inequities, these new investments are just a small step towards addressing our educational needs as a state. The political environment in Harrisburg makes it difficult to even make an ask for what we need to adequately fund our public schools.

HARRISBURG — The Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center applaud the reintroduction of the Pennsylvania Promise (SB111 / HB244), legislation that would make college debt-free and affordable for Pennsylvania students.  The legislation is based largely on a plan jointly released by PBPC and KRC in January titled “The Pennsylvania Promise: Making College Affordable and Securing Pennsylvania’s Economic Future.”

HARRISBURG - Something different happened in state legislative elections this year. Instead of running only on local issues, over 120 General Assembly candidates from every corner of the state endorsed the nonpartisan We The People policy agenda.

The General Assembly has begun working on the budget for 2018-19 based on Governor Wolf’s budget proposal. So, this is a good time to look at the governor’s proposals in light of the recent history of funding for education in our state.

Governor Wolf’s budget would finally restore (in nominal dollars) the deep cuts to K-12 classroom funding made by Governor Corbett in 2011-12, which is a noteworthy accomplishment. However, inadequate funding and deep inequities still remain in our school funding system. Also, Governor Wolf continues to prioritize early education funding. His proposal this year, if enacted, would nearly double Pre-K funding since 2014-15. A signature focus of Governor Wolf this year is a substantial investment in Career and Technical Education and workforce development, with the aim of providing high school and post-secondary youth with critical STEM and other technical skills that can lead to good paying jobs.

While the details are different, the basic theme of our analysis of the governor’s budget proposal this year is essentially unchanged from last year and the year before. Once again, Governor Wolf has presented another austere budget that, within the political limits of Harrisburg, makes progress on issues critical to Pennsylvanians. But because of those political limits – and through no fault of the governor – it does not make fast enough progress.

Three recent briefs by the Keystone Research Center laid out the case for more affordable access to post-secondary education in Pennsylvania.  The global race for raising incomes and increasing opportunity hinges critically on access to post-secondary education and training. If Pennsylvania does not expand access to higher education to more of its citizens, the Commonwealth’s economy will suffer and living standards will lag behind growth elsewhere. With a modest and smart investment, Pennsylvania can build a more prosperous future for its citizens and reinvigorate the American Dream in every corner of the keystone state. “The Pennsylvania Promise,” outlined below, shows how.

PBPC and Keystone Research Center's series of reports on the state of higher education in Pennsylvania, focusing on the lack of investment from the state resulting in new barriers to access for Pennsylvania students.

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