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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 28, 2017 04:11 PM
From: Representative Michael K. Hanna and Rep. James R. Roebuck, Jr.
To: All House members
Subject: Study of the Long-Term Sustainability and Viability of Our Public Institutions of Higher Education
In the near future, we plan to introduce a resolution that would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to conduct a study of the long-term sustainability and viability of our public institutions of higher education.

As you know, Pennsylvania has a diverse array of public institutions of higher education with a variety of missions and strengths. For the purposes of this resolution, public institutions of higher education that receive public funds include the fourteen universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), fourteen community colleges, the Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, the Rural Regional College of Northern Pennsylvania, the Allegany College of Maryland, and four state-related universities.

All Pennsylvania residents benefit from the skills and education gained by students at our public institutions of higher education. To secure these benefits for our residents, we invest significant public resources to support these important institutions. In order to maximize these benefits we must continue to partner with these institutions to promote greater accessibility, affordability and usability of postsecondary education in this commonwealth. The future of the commonwealth depends in part on the ability of our public institutions of higher education to continue to fulfill their missions.

In order to provide an accurate and thorough analysis of the future of public higher education in this state, it is important for LBFC to analyze not just PASSHE, but all of our public institutions of Higher Education. Under our resolution, a sustainability and viability study would include a detailed assessment of projected revenue and expenses for at least the next five years; college affordability over the next five years; the potential for improved efficiencies and overall cost reductions; shared governance, which when analyzing PASSHE, would include a review of the powers and duties of the various parties within PASSHE; current and future infrastructure needs; the contributions made by any affiliates, subsidiaries, foundations, local sponsors or other entities; the adequacy of state support for institutions of higher education; and best practices undertaken by policymakers in other states to address enrollment and fiscal pressures in public higher education.

Additionally, this study would require the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), in the most recent year available, to provide a list of all public and private intuitions that have students who receive grant money from PHEAA. The study would also seek input from the Board of Governors, the Office of the Chancellor, and the Councils of Trustees of PASSHE, as well as the presidents of our universities and colleges. Input would also be received from faculty, alumni, business leaders, students, the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, PHEAA and the Department of Education.

Our resolution aims to highlight the positive attributes of Pennsylvania’s public institutions of higher education, while also shedding light on any inefficiencies and current or potential problems facing these institutions. This information will allow us as lawmakers to make more informed decisions that will ensure the long-term viability of this important part of our state’s economic and educational strength.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this resolution. Thank you in advance for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact Lynette Perkins at 717-772-2283 or by e-mail at LMPerkins@pahouse.net.

Introduced as HR331