Fueled by News: Corbett budget has multiple layers


Joe Petro, Opinion Co-Editor

Gov. Tom Corbett on Feb. 8 released his budget proposal that will put unnecessary financial stress on hundreds of thousands of students. The $27.1 billion budget proposal will require the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency to decrease the financial help students deserve by 6 percent.

Corbett’s budget depicts that tuition will surely rise for students. His budget proposal states that there will be a 4 percent decrease for community colleges, a 20 percent decrease for the 14 state-owned universities, a 28 percent decrease for Penn State University and a 30 percent decrease for Temple University and University of Pittsburgh.

According to Newswatch 16, Corbett told lawmakers, “We need to have a candid conversation about how to best deal with the spiraling costs and our own obligations.”

Corbett sees higher education as an unnecessary cost and that students should be responsible for investing in their own future. However, Corbett does not see the long-term investment this money is being used for. As a result of the economic crisis our country is facing, many citizens are returning to higher education institutions for degrees that will help them to find employment in the future. By failing to invest in the future of these students, Corbett will be stunting the future economic development of the state.

According to The Scranton Times-Tribune, the proposal will also decrease PennDot’s spending by 20 percent, despite the fact Corbett’s commission has advocated substantial spending on roads and bridges.

To make a further mess of economic development and the work-force, Corbett’s proposal will endorse the phase-out of a business tax, the capital stock and franchise tax, which would reduce the states revenue by $250 million. Corbett did not address tax reform that would close tax loopholes, reduce business tax rates across the board, and more fairly distribute the tax burden to generate a more productive revenue stream.

This proposal stunts the economic development of the state by cutting funding for the state’s future and endorsing the wrongful tax breaks for businesses. The already damaged economy is going to see further damage when these unjust actions see the light of day. Students will be forced to carry the unnecessary burden of finding a way of financing their futures in a broken economy, which defeats the purpose of their academic endeavors.

Let’s imagine this proposal comes to pass, students will travel unsafe, unpaved roads to entry-level jobs to finance their higher education that they no longer need because of the future pitiful state of the job market. Lawmakers question why unemployment is high, jobs are scarce, state assistance receives more applicants, and why the economy is in the state it is? The answer is because of the damaging actions of Corbett’s proposed budget cuts.

We must encourage students who pursue higher education, tax businesses like everybody else, and disregard proposals such as this one. By doing these things we invest in the future and begin to restore the economy by building a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce.