This story originally appeared on PA projector.
The governor of Pennsylvania has broad authority to offer education funding, serve on college boards, and appoint trustees to these critical panels.
Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, for example, sent $40 million in unused stimulus money to four universities this summer, a decision he could take without the advice of the General Assembly.
In November, voters will choose a new governor – the first two for the seat being Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state’s Attorney General, and Republican Doug Mastriano, a state senator representing Franklin County.
To see how the top two candidates differ on issues related to higher education in Pennsylvania, Spotlight PA asked each campaign for information and reviewed previous political statements, votes or positions. Shapiro’s campaign responded with information. Mastriano’s campaign failed to respond.
Here is where the two candidates stand:
Vision for Pennsylvania Colleges and Universities
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, or PASSHE, is made up of 14 universities and educates more than 93,000 students. The governor, with the approval of the state Senate, appoints 11 of the 20 members of the state system’s board of trustees, who have the power to appoint college presidents, set tuition fees, and oversee other financial decisions.
The governor and the person they choose to be the secretary of state for education also sit on the board. Both roles can choose people designated as replacements.
In 2016, PASSHE began a redesign to reduce costs and promote financial stability and access. In October 2021, the system asked the state for an additional $73 millionfor a total of $550 million.
As a state senator, Mastriano voted to send nearly $552.5 million to the state system this summer. His campaign website makes no mention of his plans for the state system.
In a statement to Spotlight PA, ShapiroThe campaign said it plans to increase investment in PASSHE schools and work to make community college more affordable.
“As Governor, Josh will champion legislation that lowers costs, increases access to community colleges and state-linked universities, and funds resources for more low-income students to participate in the economy” , writes the campaign. “He will invest more in PASSHE schools, make community college more affordable, and ensure that all of our students have many opportunities to succeed.”
The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, the union representing faculty and coaches at PASSHE schools, has endorsed Shapiro for the governorship.