ANALYSIS: PA House Budget Makes Vital Upgrades to 2023-24 Budget Proposal for Higher Education


HARRISBURG – The Keystone Research Center today released an analysis of higher education investments in the recently-passed Pennsylvania House budget amendment (HB 611).

“The Governor’s recognition of the long-term problems of Pennsylvania higher education is extremely important,” said Keystone Research Center Executive Director Stephen Herzenberg. “But the chronic underfunding of public higher education means that we can’t wait until the 2024-25 budget to boost funding. For this reason, we’re glad to report that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last week passed a budget (HB 611) that increased funding for higher education over Governor Shapiro’s original proposal.”

Pennsylvania ranks 47th in the nation for per capita state investment in higher education ($143 per capita), which is only about half of the national average ($288 per capita). Pennsylvania’s inflation-adjusted funding of public higher education has declined 41.9% since 1980, the most of any state.

The analysis highlights that the House-passed budget amendment would:

  • increase funding for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) by $22 million (4%) over Governor Shapiro’s proposal and a 6% increase over last year;
  • invest $30 million for “facilities support” for PennWest University (the three state system campuses that were consolidated last year – California, Clarion, and Edinboro);
  • increase funding for community colleges by $10.3 million (4%) over Governor Shapiro’s proposal and a 6% increase over last year; and
  • increase funding for approved projects to modernize education and workforce training facilities at community colleges by $8 million, the amount requested by the PA Commission.

Herzenberg and co-author Diana Polson conclude the analysis by underscoring the stakes for students and businesses in the Commonwealth.

“The Senate should approve these increases on a bipartisan basis—because those most harmed by Pennsylvania’s underfunding of higher education include individuals and businesses in rural areas,” they write. “Individuals have no access to affordable college and the postsecondary credential that might help them access a living-wage job. Businesses cannot find workers with the postsecondary credentials and skills they seek. Communities spiral down including in college towns with declining enrollment.”

You can read the full analysis here.