Feb. 29, 2024

Penn State President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Joan Gabel, Temple University President Dr. Richard Englert, and Lincoln University President Dr. Brenda Allen testified today before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans questioned their involvement in any meetings or discussions regarding Governor Shapiro’s “Blueprint for Higher Education” and the financial implications on each institution. Additionally, Republicans asked about efforts to combat antisemitism on campuses while simultaneously allowing for free speech, performance-based budgeting, and how to make our state-related universities more affordable for students.

Key Takeaways

· Governor Shapiro’s so-called “Blueprint for Higher Education” is a significant overhaul on how higher education is funded in Pennsylvania. Yet, once again, when asked to advocate for the “blueprint”, the presidents of the state-related universities couldn’t share details of the plan.

· House Republicans have led and continue to lead efforts to reform higher education in Pennsylvania. Last year, Representative Kate Klunk’s House Bill 1556, which subjects the state-related universities to the Right-to-Know Law was signed by the Governor and is now Act 29 of 2023.

· In response to the wave of antisemitism on college campuses across the country, House Republicans sent a clear message: antisemitism won’t be accepted on any college campus in the Commonwealth.

     o Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln all succinctly stated calling for the genocide of Jews is against their student codes of conduct. The universities further stated they have or would, if it occurred in the future, stop funding any group, either student or faculty, which spreads or supports antisemitism.

· Performance-based budgeting is an important reform measure that House Republicans have proposed for all levels of state government, including higher education. Members were encouraged to hear that the state-related universities were open to taking a major step forward and willing to take part in performance-based budgeting practices.

· Providing funding for students who attend a Pennsylvania college or university through a grant program has been a House Republican initiative for several budget cycles. While unfortunately, the previous administration was uninterested in the idea, Governor Shapiro’s proposal to create such a program for the state-related universities is a positive step in that direction.

Notable Q&A

Rep. Jim Struzzi asks which budget proposal the state-related universities support, the Governor’s “blueprint” or their traditional non-preferred request. 

Rep. Kristin Marcell asks if calls for genocide against Jews conflicts with each university’s code of conduct and if their universities fund antisemitic groups. 

Rep. Thomas Kutz asks what changes can be made to make the state-related universities more affordable. 

Full Hearing

Watch the full hearing here.

Rep. Seth Grove, Republican Chairman of the PA House Appropriations Committee
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives