State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Lawmakers urge open records reforms for state-related universities

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 2, 2013 11:18 PM

Pennsylvania's state-related universities have received mostly flat-funding from the commonwealth for the second year running. With the struggle for their state aid long settled, some lawmakers are noting a tangential issue has been overshadowed: the level of transparency at the schools.

Lawmakers and the Corbett administration considered it a victory to flat-fund Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln, since in 2011 the schools' appropriation was cut by nearly 20 percent. But some still wish the budget forced progress on an effort to bring the schools under the state's Right-to-Know law. They are largely exempt from having to comply with inquiries about their records.

Democratic state Senator Andy Dinniman of Montgomery County used budget debate last week to remind other lawmakers of the unfinished business.

"It's public money," Dinniman said. "Let's return in the fall and look at this issue. And what better day to remind people than the day we're putting [in] millions of dollars of public money so these institutions can continue to do their wonderful job." Dinniman also noted incomplete efforts on two of his own proposals - one, to change the governance structure at Penn State, and another, to bring board members at all four schools under the state's Ethics Act.

A House proposal bringing the universities under the Right-to-Know law has passed a committee but has since been tabled by the full chamber.

Penn State, Pitt, and Temple received the same amount in state aid as they did last year. Lincoln University and Penn State's affiliate technical school each received a $2 million boost.


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