Some state universities should consider drilling for natural gas below campus to help solve their financial problems, Gov. Tom Corbett said Thursday.
Mr. Corbett made the suggestion during an appearance at a meeting of the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees at Edinboro University.
Mr. Corbett said six of the 14 campuses in the State System of Higher Education are located on the Marcellus Shale formation, part of a vast region of underground natural gas deposits that are being explored and extracted.
The Republican governor's proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts in July would cut $2 billion from education and reduce aid to colleges and universities by 50 percent.
Kenn Marshall, spokesman for the State System, said the system has been discussing Marcellus Shale drilling for a year or more. He noted that the campuses are on state-owned land. Under the current law, any royalties would go to the state's Oil and Gas Lease Fund, not the university system. Legislation introduced in Harrisburg is aimed at providing for royalties to go to system schools instead.
The governor's spokesman, Kevin Harley, said that Mr. Corbett was "generally talking about how schools need to get creative" about their revenue options.