At the same time, Corbett also renewed his opposition to a tax on the state's booming natural gas industry, and said the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale formations below Pennsylvania could make it "the Texas of the natural gas boom. I'm determined that Pennsylvania not lose this moment."
The Education Department budget, which totals about $11 billion this year, has been buoyed this year by hundreds of millions in federal stimulus money that is not expected to be available next year and Corbett proposes about $1 billion less for 2011-12.
Corbett advocated reducing the appropriation for public schools by $550 million. He also proposes eliminating $259 million in special grants that subsidized programs such as all-day kindergarten, and $224 million in reimbursements to school district for students who transfer to charger schools.
He also advocated spending cuts of about $625 million - more than 50 percent - for the 14 state-owned universities in the State System of Higher Education, plus the "state-related" schools: Pitt, Temple, Penn State and Lincoln.
The budget cuts Penn State's appropriation by 52.4 percent, a devastating reduction of $182 million. This includes a 50 percent cut in Penn State's educational appropriation, a 50 percent cut in its Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension appropriations, the loss of all federal stimulus dollars, a reduction for the Pennsylvania College of Technology, and the total elimination of medical assistance funding for the Penn State Hershey Medical Center...
Cuts in higher education budgets are being proposed in many states, but never has a single institution's budget been slated for a reduction of more than 50 percent in a given year. The University would have a matter of only a few weeks to manage such a catastrophic cut.
"A reduction of this magnitude would necessitate massive budget cuts, layoffs and tuition increases, with a devastating effect on many students, employees and their families," said Al Horvath, senior vice president for Finance and Business. "While we have for many months been planning for a potential state funding cut, we could not have envisioned one so damaging to the future of the University and the Commonwealth."
We may all have to share in the sacrifice. Except...
But government is not meant to be the answer for jobs. The private sector is. The Marcellus Shale discovery, a natural resource deposit that rivals the ages of coal and oil, is a great example.
Limited government means not mistaking someone else’s property for your own. There has been much pressure to tax the gas being drawn from the Marcellus Shale. The Marcellus is a resource, a source of potential wealth, the foundation of a new economy. Not just something new to tax.
Pennsylvania can become a center not just of resources but a center of the industry that backs up those resources. For every pipe running a mile underground we should have jobs at distribution centers, at refineries, at shipping ports, and the offices and companies that run them.
These resources, by the way, belong to the people who own the mineral rights. Those people are getting their fair share by working out their own leases with the companies doing the drilling. That’s how it should be. That’s the American way. What Pennsylvanians will gain is the jobs, the spinoffs, and if we don’t scare these industries off with new taxes, the follow-up that comes along. You see underneath the Marcellus Shale is another bonanza. It’s called the Utica Shale. And where Marcellus promises 50 years of energy the Utica promises riches going into the next century. Let’s make Pennsylvania the hub of this boom. Just as the oil companies decided to headquarter in one of a dozen states with oil ... let’s make Pennsylvania the Texas of the natural gas boom. I’m determined that Pennsylvania not lose this moment. We have the chance to get it right the first time, the chance to grow our way out of hard days.