In recent days, I’ve had conversations with Master Farmers, state ag leaders, even Penn State trustees about Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget “gut” of the commonwealth’s land grant university budget. I came up with these five possible reasons behind the 52% gut cut for Penn State:
- That part of the budget was drafted by 20-something-year-old aides with no knowledge of the school’s land grant mission and how ag research and Cooperative Extension are funded, and the governor – writing his first budget – simply looked at the bottom line. He simply didn’t see the devastating potential impact of losing a highly productive workforce of at least 400 professionals.
- His budget people didn't seek wise counsel from the agricultural community beforehand.
The governor has no concept of the important contributions of ag research and Cooperative Extension to developing the Marcellus Shale gas and educating the public about its impact, their roles in eradicating plum pox disease, or assisting in new technology adoption. He’s not aware of the Pennsylvania 4-H program’s educational commitment and value to rural and urban youth. (This is a very short part of a long list.)
- Penn State funding is just a “knight” in Corbett’s game of budget chess – when he should be sacrificing lesser “pawns”.
If there is another bonafide reason, we’d like to know it. Even as one who tends to vote Republican, I’m more than disappointed.
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