HARRISBURG – State Senator Andy Dinniman decried the proposed slashing of state funds for higher education at a rally this on the Capitol steps attended by hundreds of students from West Chester University and Pennsylvania’s 13 other state universities.
Dinniman, (D-19, who represents Newlin and West Marlborough in the Unionville area) said the governor’s proposal to cut State System of Higher Education funding by 20 percent – on top of last year’s 18 percent cut – would be untenable for college students and their parents and hurtful to the Commonwealth’s ability to compete in today’s knowledge-based economy. Dinniman urged the students to let the General Assembly and Governor know that Pennsylvania must continue its prudent investment in affordable higher education.
“We’re not going to stand by and let the Commonwealth’s state system of higher education be dismantled,” Dinniman said. “We recognize the integrity and excellence of the education we are receiving. We value education on all levels, and we’re going to make it clear that there is nothing more important than to support all levels of public education.”
Dinniman pointed out the hypocrisy of the Administration ignoring potential revenue sources like a proper Marcellus Shale impact fee and a fee on smokeless tobacco while imposing state funding cuts that will greatly increase families’ tuition bills and homeowners’ local property taxes.
“Harrisburg can wave the flag in celebration of funding cuts,” Dinniman said, “But someone is going to pay, and the people who will pay are you and your parents,” Dinniman told students.
In the crowd was Kaitlin Latimer, a 21-year-old West Chester University senior at West Chester University who took time off from her part-time job in West Chester to attend the rally because “It’s our right and responsibility as students to be vocal about this issue.”
Latimer said while she would be graduating in May – with a student loan significantly “in the double digits” – her brother Ryan is an 18-year-old freshman at West Chester University, so any continued Commonwealth divestment in higher education will still significantly and negatively affect her entire family.
“The way the job market is, I’m going to be paying back my student loan with waitressing wages; It’s going to be difficult,” Latimer said.