Senate committee’s bill would keep Temple’s funding at current level

Tweets from the university’s government affairs Twitter account went live about an hour ago, offering a bit of hope for those fighting against cuts in Temple’s state funding–or at least those in the Twittersphere.

The Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a bill that would restore the proposed funding cuts to the university, the tweets announced, which were outlined by Gov. Tom Corbett in February. The bill would keep Temple’s funding for the next fiscal year at its current amount.

When Corbett introduced his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012-13, he called for a 30 percent cut to Temple’s funding–reducing the appropriation from $139.9 million to $97.9 million. Although Temple stood to receive $139.9 million this year, 5 percent, or approximately $7 million, was held due to a shortfall in state revenue.

Ken Lawrence, senior vice president for government, community and public affairs, said he has been working with the senators on the appropriations committee these past few months to introduce this Temple-specific bill. Bills for Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh, also facing proposed cuts, would be separate, he said.

The bill still needs to be passed by the senate, the state house of representatives and the governor. But while it’s far from set in stone, the bill is a step in the right direction, Lawrence said.

“What the bill the demonstrates is that the state senate considers higher education a priority in the budget and does not want to see a cut,” he said. “[The bill] puts us in a much stronger position than we were in last year at this time.”

Lawrence added that Temple has maintained that the 20 percent cut to its funding last year should be considered a two-year cut.

An estimated 10,000 people have utilized Temple Advocates Legislative Outreach Network, or TALON, to contact legislators on behalf of Temple, since Corbett’s proposed budget address, Lawrence said.

“This is not the end,” he said. “We still have a long way to go.”

The Twitter account, @TUGovtAffairs, concurred.