Representative Madeleine Dean went swinging for the fences over the weekend when she criticized King Corporate’s plan to “flat fund” public higher education. In the process of going after Governor Corbett, Representative Dean went after the golden calf – the untaxed Marcellus Shale – that the bought and sold Pennsylvania Republicans don’t dare touch. In her statement, Representative Dean said:
“The governor is manipulating words when he touts ‘level funding.’ We must not forget his crusade last spring to leave our institutes of higher learning threadbare while he refused to enact a reasonable severance tax on the Marcellus Shale industry, or close tax loopholes, or offer a more comprehensive tax plan.
“His announcement flies in the face of Pennsylvania’s academic community, students and taxpayers. I believe the path to a healthy, skilled, and gainfully employed community goes through a strong network of schools committed to postsecondary education and beyond. As such, I will join my colleagues in the House again this budget season in calling for a robust investment in higher education.”
Over the past two budgets, the governor proposed 50% and 30% budget cuts to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which include the 14 state universities, and the 4 state related universities, which include Penn State, Lincoln, University of Pittsburgh and Temple, while the Marcellus Shale Industry remains “taxed” at lower rates than Texas – yes, Texas (wooo! at least we’re #1 somewhere). Instead of placing a severance tax – which would place more money in the state’s general fund – on Marcellus Shale drilling operations, the governor implemented the impact fee, Act 13, on the industry, which divides the revenues 60% for local municipalities and 40% for state projects. According to a February 2012 article by Third and State, Pennsylvania’s Impact Fee equates to a 2.6% tax on the industry while states like Texas, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming have substantial taxes the energy industry. The taxes that these states have in place are, respectively, 5.4%, 7.9%, 8.4% and a whopping 10.2%.
Even though public higher education isn’t going to get the ax for a third year in a row, it is obvious who will the winners and the losers will be in Corbett’s 2013 budget.
Sean Kitchen is an Assistant Editor and Social Media Organizer for Raging Chicken Press. He is student at Kutztown University.