It may be no big surprise when a lawmaker whose district encompasses the main campus of Penn State University speaks out on their behalf, but Sen. Jake Corman of Centre County also is a Republican, like the governor. And he holds the powerful position of chairman of the Senate's Appropriations Committee.
That's why it was significant when Mr. Corman said he's concerned the governor's budget could hurt the missions of the 14 state-owned universities and state-related Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple and Lincoln universities. That mission includes serving Pennsylvanians by charging them lower tuition than out-of-state students who attend state-related institutions and schools in the State System of Higher Education -- including California, Edinboro, Clarion and Indiana. Given last year's cuts, Mr. Corman said, "I think they've done their fair share."
Mr. Corman said he hopes the Legislature can restore funding to state universities and state-related schools so they don't become, in his words, "barely related."
That had to be music to the ears of university presidents, whose allocations are the subject of budget hearings in Harrisburg this week. Those same administrators had to like Mr. Corman's calculations, which estimated that Pennsylvania students at state-related schools save $1.3 billion in annual tuition in return for a state contribution to their schools of almost $500 million.
Nobody is saying the task of finding more money for higher education will be easy in lean times, but Mr. Corman has correctly framed the work ahead.