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February 7, 2002

Governor recommends 5% cut for Pitt

Gov. Mark Schweiker has proposed cutting the state subsidies of Pitt and its fellow state-related universities — Penn State, Temple and Lincoln — by 5 percent for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Pitt's appropriation would fall to $169.5 million, down from the $178.5 million budgeted for the current fiscal year and the $177.4 million that the University actually received last year.

The governor's budget proposal, unveiled on Feb. 5, followed a recent announcement that Pitt, at the state's request, has set aside 2 percent of its current appropriation in a budgetary reserve fund. That was in addition to the 1 percent reserve established in November. If commonwealth revenues continue to fall short of projections, the state will withhold the entire 3 percent from the last monthly payment to the University in June.

"The University of Pittsburgh fully understands that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, like the rest of our nation, is moving through economically challenging times and, of course, we want to do our part," Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said. "However, upon our initial review of the governor's budget proposal, it seems that higher education is being asked to bear a disproportionate share of the financial burden."

In addition to recommending a 5 percent cut for Pennsylvania's four state-related schools, Schweiker wants to cut the subsidy to the State System of Higher Education by 3 percent. His proposed $20.9 billion budget for the state is about 1 percent larger than the current budget.

Nordenberg pointed out that the governor's proposed budget would cut Pitt's educational and general funding — the core of the University's operating budget — back to a level not seen since 1998.

In the $186.1 million state budget request that Pitt submitted to Harrisburg last fall, Nordenberg wrote that the University's "top priority…is to secure an inflationary increase of 6.5 percent (when cumulated over the past two years) in our educational and general line." It was the only sentence in his 22-page "Chancellor's Statement" printed in bold.

On Tuesday, Nordenberg said the governor's proposed cut in the Pitt appropriation for next year "comes at a time when the work we do to educate and retain young citizens of the commonwealth and fuel the state's and region's economic development is more important than ever. We hope that, as the budget process unfolds, higher levels of support will be made available for our students, our faculty and our programs."

For next year, Schweiker is proposing the following funding for Pitt:

* $143.98 million for educational and general expenses, down from the $151.56 million budgeted for the current year.

* $6.55 million for medical programs. Current budget: $6.9 million.

* $1.08 million for dental clinics. Current budget: $1.14 million.

* $337,000 to recruit and retain disadvantaged students. Current budget: $355,000.

* $8.09 million for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Current budget: $8.51 million.

* $522,000 for Western Psych's Services for Teens at Risk program. Current budget: $549,000.

* $263,000 for the Center for Public Health Practice. Current budget: $277,000.

* $962,000 for rural education outreach. Current budget: $1.01 million.

* $2.38 million for laboratories and equipment. Current budget: $2.5 million.

* $2.38 million for information technology. Current budget: $2.5 million.

* $475,000 for student life initiatives. Current budget: $500,000.

* $2.51 million for program initiatives. Current budget: $2.66 million.

Nordenberg and other Pitt administrators will plead the University's case for additional funds during hearings of the House and Senate appropriations committees in Harrisburg's state capitol building. The Senate hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26 at 9 a.m. The House hearing is set for Feb. 27 at 9 a.m.

— Bruce Steele

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