Response to MU speaker debate
Governor, in a statement, says he's looking forward to commencement Response to MU speaker debate BY KAREN SHUEY, Staff Writer
Gov. Tom Corbett's office, responding to protesters, said Monday the state is providing adequate funding for higher education.
A spokeswoman for Corbett provided a prepared statement defending Corbett's commitment to education, saying that "every year since he's been in office he has dedicated more than 40 percent of the state budget to funding education in Pennsylvania.''
Millersville University students and alumni are questioning the school's choice of Corbett as its 2013 commencement speaker because of what they consider to be deep cuts in higher education.
By Monday afternoon, more than 1,000 people had signed an online SignOn.org petition seeking to ban the governor's talk.
The signers are asking that the university invite "someone who actually makes education a priority and supports education to speak at our graduation," citing Corbett's calls for cuts to state higher education funding during his time in office.
Those who logged on to the site described the choice of Corbett as commencement speaker as "ridiculous" and "atrocious." The petition is about halfway to meeting its goal of 2,000 signatures.
"Unfortunately, those people believe the only support for education is shown by how many zeroes are on a check," Tim Eller, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said Monday.
MU spokeswoman Janet Kacskos said this weekend that a change by the university is "highly" doubtful.
Janet Kelley, deputy director of communications for Corbett, said Monday the governor is looking forward to the event and that his remarks will reflect that the day is about the graduates and their accomplishments.
In Corbett's 2013-14 budget, he recommended $1.58 billion for higher education in exchange for a promise from the institutions to keep tuition low.
"The chairman of the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, along with leaders from the state-related universities, has spoken in support of Gov. Corbett's proposed budget for the next fiscal year," Kelley said.
The proposed funding applies to the 14 community colleges and 14 state universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, including Millersville, and four state-related universities.
In his first year in office, Corbett proposed cutting state funding by half for the 18 four-year public institutions, which at the time was considered the largest such cut in the country. The Legislature didn't like the idea and negotiated cuts of 18 percent for the state universities and 19 percent for Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.
Last year, the governor proposed 30 percent cuts for Penn State, Pitt and Temple and 20 percent for the state universities. The Legislature, through negotiations, averted any funding cuts in exchange for a promise to keep tuition increases at or below the rate of inflation.