Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Placing the Blame

On Monday, The Penn State Propaganda Portal announced that
Ten people are losing their jobs and dozens of additional positions are being eliminated through attrition as a result of budget shortfalls in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences caused by state appropriations that have not kept pace with rising costs.


In the current fiscal year, the college's state appropriation for agricultural research and extension was flat at 2008-2009 levels.

The governor's proposed budget for 2010-2011 again includes flat funding for the college. However, college administrators say without greater state support, rising operating and pension-related costs will create a budget shortfall of $11 million as of July 1, 2011, requiring a 20 percent reduction in agricultural research and extension programs in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. This would equate to more than 160 positions in the college.

"Unlike Penn State's undergraduate education programs, these programs do not receive tuition dollars," McPheron said
The take-away is that that the workforce reduction is caused by flat appropriations for the college which are expected to remain so this year and that the shortfall caused by rising costs cannot be made up for by hiking tuition.  Hence it is the governor's fault that these people are losing their jobs.

Historically, it has been true that the Commonwealth's budget for the University has line item appropriations and that the appropriations for for agricultural research and extension line item has been flat recently. But this year, the governor has eliminate line items from the proposed appropriations for Penn State (Proposed Budget PDF page 521) in order to give Old Main more flexibility to deal with its flat funding.  Therefore it is not true that, "The governor's proposed budget for 2010-2011 again includes flat funding for the college;" it simply  includes flat funding for the University as a whole.

This means is that Old Main could have shifted money into the College of Agriculture budget  from elsewhere in the budget to support agricultural research and extension, but has chosen not to do it. This may or may not have been a smart thing to do, but this year it was Old Main's call not Rendell's.

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