Gov. Shapiro continues to push higher education restructuring in Pittsburgh visit

A combined system of 15 community colleges and 10 state universities would treat both tiers as equals, and they would equitably split a 15% funding increase in his proposed state budget, Gov. Josh Shapiro said Tuesday.

In an appearance at the Community College of Allegheny College in Pittsburgh, the governor pushed back against those with doubts about his plan to unite two-and four-year campuses and to cap tuition and fees for students from median income households and under at no more than $1,000 per semester.

Shapiro said Pennsylvania “has failed to pay the bill” for students’ futures and for the state’s economic well-being by subsidizing higher education at a rate second to last among the 50 states.

Shapiro said there are tens of thousands of jobs available in the state currently that require some higher education — a degree or certificate — and not enough workers to fill them.

He said cost and other factors have led to empty seats on the campuses that could give individuals a shot at a better life.

Shapiro said Pennsylvania is sitting on a $14 billion surplus that would more than support his higher education proposals, which also include a $1,000 boost in PHEAA grants and a new system that ties public campus subsidies to meeting Pennsylvania’s education and workforce goals.

“The Community College of Allegheny County’s mission is predicated on providing affordable, accessible high-quality education for all members of our community, and we share the governor’s enthusiasm and commitment to helping Pennsylvanians acquire the education and training they need to realize their full potential,” said CCAC President Quintin Bullock.

In fact, he asserted that the surplus could fund every idea in his proposed fiscal 2024-25 budget and still leave $11 billion in the bank.

“Now is the time to invest in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said.

As for a timetable, the governor said his goal is to secure state legislative approval for the new system in this year’s state budget cycle, then use 2024-25 to transition as his administration and the campuses hammer out additional details and refine how the overall system will operate.

“It’s time to build on this new blueprint for higher education in Pennsylvania and leave a lasting legacy,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro’s noon news conference followed a tour he took of CCAC’s Center for Education, Innovation and Training, a new $43 million building. It houses programs that are intended to prepare students for jobs in high demand fields from advanced manufacturing to culinary arts.

He was flanked by officials at the news conference, including Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato, Allegheny County Executive, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and others.

The governor watched during his tour as CCAC students worked at some of the high tech machinery housed in the building.

Bill Schackner is a TribLive reporter covering higher education. Raised in New England, he joined the Trib in 2022 after 29 years at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team. Previously, he has written for newspapers in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. He can be reached at

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *