A prominent state system faculty union is praising Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent budget plan for prioritizing public higher education. Association of Pennsylvania State Colleges and University Faculties (APSCUF) President Jamie Martin applauded the budget plan for its “much-needed investment” in the state system.
Wolf announced the final budget plan on Tuesday, Feb. 8.
“This proposal will change the landscape at our universities for current and future State System university students,” Martin said.
The plan has initiatives that would help students at the State System universities. The plan includes a $75 million increase to the budget line-item for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), according press release on governor.pa.com. The Nellie Bly Scholarship, which benefits state and community colleges, would receive $200 million. This would lower the cost of college and decrease student debt.
According to the APSCUF press release, $150 million from the American Rescue Plan would go to “faculty and staff support; diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and continued marketing for State System students.”
“Because of the surplus, we can actually do something that we have never been able to do in my seven years,” Wolf, said in a statement. “I’m not sure that’s there’s anything that’s more important for a state than education. When we stiff education, we’re stiffing ourselves. If we do a good job in preparing you for a career in this complicated and ever-changing world that we live in, then we need you to have [those] opportunities.”
Martin said the increased appropriations funding scholarships and other student-centered initiatives move the stat system back toward its original mission of providing a high-quality education at the lowest possible cost for students.
“Public higher education is supposed to be affordable. Not fulfilling this promise has devastating effects on our Commonwealth,” Martin said.
Martin said the union is grateful for the governor’s “steadfast support” in helping move PASSHE initiates across the finish line.
“We approach this budget with our students as the focus. We must not forget our students do amazing things while they are enrolled in our universities and after they leave them. They are first responders, nurses, police officers and physicians; they work with our children as teachers and counselors; they find success in business, science and art; they work for nonprofit organizations and in government,” she said. “We are the beneficiaries of their successes, and they deserve our support that is included in this budget.”
Editors Note: Slate Staff members contributed to this article.