HARRISBURG – Citing the substantial taxpayer investment in Pitt, Penn State, Lincoln and Temple, Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Fayette) questioned heads of those institutions about the need for improved transparency and a commitment to freezing tuition rates for students during state budget hearings Tuesday.
The four universities are collectively referred to as “state-related” universities because they are not owned by the Commonwealth but receive funding from the state. They collectively received nearly $600 million from the state in the current year’s budget and Gov. Josh Shapiro has proposed an increase for the 2023-24 state budget.
“Given the governor’s proposal for a 7% increase, would you be able to commit to a tuition freeze if you receive that 7% increase,” Warner asked heads of the four universities.
All responded “no.”
Leading up to the tuition issue, Warner opened his questioning with a focus on transparency, pointing to the fact the institutions are not subject to the state’s Right to Know law despite receiving state funding. He also noted Penn State University is the only one among the four state-related universities that does not have legislative appointees on the Board of Trustees.
Watch Warner’s full line of questioning here
“Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent by these universities,” Warner said. “Current and prospective students and their families also deserve a reasonable tuition rate, especially given the financial strains they face.
“These institutions make great contributions to our state, but we must ensure accountability through the kind of openness and transparency our state-owned universities abide by,” he added.
Warner plans to reintroduce legislation that would require all four state-related universities and their associated branch campuses and graduate schools be subject to the Right to Know law. He also plans to reintroduce a bill to reorganize the Penn State Board of Trustees to match the makeup of other state-related institutions with four members appointed by the governor, four appointed by the Senate president pro tempore and four by the speaker of the House.
Representative Ryan Warner
52nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler