Status quo is unacceptable, Sen. Argall testifies on future of 14 state-owned universities


HARRISBURG – Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) outlined reasons why he sponsored a Senate resolution requiring an independent study of the sustainability and viability of the state’s 14 universities, which are part of the State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

“Our 14 state-owned universities have a serious problem and the General Assembly needs serious answers,” Argall said. He noted the growing enrollment trends for community colleges, state-related universities as well as Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology that contrast directly with PASSHE. The enrollment trends are featured in Governor Wolf’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19.

“Some will say that more state funding is what is needed to fix PASSHE. I caution against using that as the only approach.”

In his testimony, Argall outlined that since 2008 the current fiscal year, PASSHE experienced an overall reduction of 13 percent in state funding. Argall highlighted that state-related universities have seen their state funding drop by 19 and Penn State University has seen a 25 percent reduction in that same span.

“The bottom line is more tax dollars do not always equate to better results,” Argall warned members of the Senate and House Education committees.

Argall, who sponsored Senate Resolution 34, pointed out the measure received the unanimous support of the state Senate.

The RAND Corporation, who conducted the independent review of PASSHE, testified alongside the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee. The two entities worked together on the final report outlining five key reforms the legislature should take to address the looming challenges facing PASSHE.

“Our 14 state-owned universities are wonderful institutions with a long tradition of affordable education for Pennsylvania families. I requested this study to help us understand why these trends are occurring and how the problem can be remedied,” Argall added.

You can view Sen. Argall’s written testimony here. The testimony features a graph highlighting enrollment trends between PASSHE, community colleges, state-related universities and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology taken from the Governor’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19.

Contact: Mary Beth Dougherty