HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING COMMISSION ORGANIZES AND BEGINS WORK

The Higher Education Funding Commission held its inaugural and organizational meeting yesterday (August 27) and will begin its work reviewing and making recommendations related to higher education funding, affordability and effectiveness and administration and operations, according to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera.

During the commission’s first meeting, Senator Browne, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) and Secretary Rivera were elected to co-chair the commission.

“Pennsylvania has one of the most diverse and comprehensive higher education systems in the country,” Senator Browne said. “The commission will take a more thorough review of how higher education institutions are funded by the Commonwealth, hear testimony from a wide-range of experts on higher education and determine which factors should be considered when deciding how to allocate state funds in the future. I look forward to working with the commission members to develop a plan to distribute higher education funding in a way that provides for greater overall success of our higher education institutions and the students they serves.”

The 19-member Higher Education Funding Commission, established in Act 70 of 2019, which was sponsored by Senators Ryan Aument and Browne, is tasked with developing a higher education funding formula and identifying factors that may be used to determine the distribution of funding among the public institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania.

“While Pennsylvania works toward meeting its postsecondary attainment goal – approved by the State Board of Education in 2018 – examining and addressing college affordability could provide students with more options for pursuing programs at the Commonwealth’s public institutions of higher education,” said Noe Ortega, PDE Deputy Secretary for Postsecondary and Higher Education.

The Higher Education Funding Commission must issue a report of the commission’s findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly. The new funding formula developed by the commission, however, shall not go into effect unless the formula is approved by an act of the General Assembly and enacted into law.

Other members of the Senate serving on the commission include Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati; Senator Vincent Hughes, Minority Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Senator Wayne Langerholc, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee; Senator Andrew Dinniman, Minority Chairman of the Senate Education Committee; as well as Senators Aument, Timothy Kearney and Lindsey Williams. 

Additional state Representatives serving on the commission include Representative Matthew Bradford, Minority Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Representative Curtis Sonney, Chairman of the House Education Committee; Representative James Roebuck, Minority Chairman of the House Education Committee; as well as Representatives Aaron Kaufer, Jennifer O’Mara, Brad Roae and Wendy Ullman.

Representing the Wolf Administration on the commission in addition to Secretary Rivera and Deputy Secretary Ortega is Natalie Krug, Assistant Director, Bureau of Budget Analysis.

Public institutions of higher education defined in Act 70 include:

  • A Community College
  • A Rural Regional College
  • A State-Related Institution
  • A State-Owned Institution
  • Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology
  • Penn College of Technology

The commission expects to hold its first meeting to hear testimony in September. The commission was adjourned yesterday (August 27) until the call of the chair.

Senator Browne also chaired the Special Education Funding Commission, the Basic Education Funding Commission and the Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction (PlanCON) Advisory Committee, each of which resulted in comprehensive changes to the formulas used by Pennsylvania to distribute state dollars for basic education and school facility needs.

Contact:              

Matt Moyer (Senator Browne) mmoyer@pasen.gov – 717-787-1349

Nicole Reigelman (Secretary Rivera) nreigelman@pa.org – 717-705-8642