State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Open records push for state-related schools raises questions

Written by Mary Wilson | May 28, 2013 4:00 AM
college university graduates.jpg

(Harrisburg) -- One key question at the heart of a push for more transparency at Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities may keep legislative proposals in park for some time.

Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln are all largely exempt from the state’s open records law, while Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities are held to the standard.

Proposals to get rid of the exemption have been proposed in the House and Senate.

The universities have raised concerns or outright opposition to the plans.

Office of Open Records director Terry Mutchler recently told state senators those schools bring up a good point.

"I've met with Penn State, I've trained them in anticipation of being covered under this law," Mutchler explained. "One of the poits they've raised that I think is worth a fair discussion is, if $379 million of a $4.4 billion budget is taxpayer money, how much transparency does that buy?"

Altogether, the four state-related schools receive more than $500 million from the commonwealth last year.

A House proposal to get rid of the Right-to-Know exemption cleared a committee vote, but has since been tabled by the full chamber.

The sponsor of a similar Senate proposal says he’s not sure how soon lawmakers will be able to take up his measure, given the legislature’s crowded calendar.

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