Local
6:53 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Budget for Higher Education Cuts Community Colleges a Break

Last year, Governor Tom Corbett's budget called for an 18 percent reduction in funding for Pennsylvania state schools. The governor's 2012-2013 budget that was unveiled Tuesday slashed appropriations by 20 percent for the 14 state-owned universities.

The proposed funding reduction for community colleges is smaller at $8.8 million statewide.

Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) spokesman David Hoovler said that it amounts to only a 3.8 percent funding decrease for community colleges across the commonwealth.

"For CCAC, that probably would translate to approximately 1.3 million dollars out of overall budget" said Hoovler. "It's not going to be without challenges."

He said even with the decrease in funding, the community college system was spared from the worst cuts.

"We really see that as an indication that the governor does have high regard for our role in promoting workforce and economic development," said Hoovler. "Not just CCAC, of course, but community colleges across the state."

Stephanie Pashman, Chief Executive Officer for the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (TRWIB), remains positive about the higher education job market in that the budget is not likely to deter individuals from pursuing a career in the field.

"I wouldn't think that people would react to one single budget when they're making decisions about training and jobs," Pashman said.

Pashman noted that there has been a lack of job openings in higher education, attributing that to various factors such as tenure and job dynamic, not lack of funding.

"We have a pretty highly educated workforce here in Southwestern Pennsylvania and I think the openings in higher education haven't been as significant as we might see in other sectors," Pashman said.

Pashman said that in retrospect, the governor's proposed budget shows support of community colleges.

"We really value [community colleges] as a partner in workforce development and in getting people into jobs and see them as a real fuel in the economic development engine," Pashman said. "The Governor's budget reflects that because he really did try to affect their funding levels in seeing them as a key partner in getting people back to work."