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July 10, 2014

PA budget delay spells delay in Pitt’s budget

UPDATE JULY 10:  Gov. Tom Corbett signed Pitt’s appropriation today after approving a $29.03 billion state budget for fiscal year 2015. Using his item-veto power, Corbett cut $65 million in appropriations for General Assembly operations and $7.2 million in other spending, but left untouched spending for state-related universities and academic medical centers.

Budget details are at


Pitt’s fiscal year 2015 budget continues to be on hold pending finalization of a state budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

The University’s budget — and its tuition and salary pool figures for FY15 — won’t be finalized until Pitt’s state appropriation is set. And Pitt’s appropriation won’t be approved until after the state’s FY15 budget is complete.

Because Pitt and its fellow state-related schools are not under complete state control, their support from the state is provided through non-preferred appropriations, for which decisions are made individually after the state general fund budget is finalized.

Despite June state general fund revenue collections of $2.8 billion, which were 0.8 percent more than anticipated, preliminary figures from the state revenue department showed that FY14 general fund collections of $28.6 billion were $508.8 million, or 1.7 percent, below estimate.

A $29.1 billion state budget (House Bill 2328) was presented to Gov. Tom Corbett on July 1, following approval by a 26-24 margin in the Senate vote and a 108-95 vote in the House.

However, as of the University Times’ press time on Wednesday, Corbett had taken no action on the bill. The governor has 10 days either to approve or veto the budget, or to redline portions of it.

If he does nothing by Friday, the budget will take effect without his signature, said Paul Supowitz, vice chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations.

The governor could cut some budget items — perhaps legislators’ own funding — to try to push the General Assembly into acting on a pension reform bill, said Supowitz. While nothing is certain, Supowitz said Pitt’s funding isn’t likely to be at risk. “I doubt he would try to use education as that leverage,” he said.


In his budget proposal last February, Corbett held steady the state’s funding for Pitt, its fellow state-related universities, State System of Higher Education schools and community colleges in his $29.4 billion proposed spending plan for the fiscal year that began July 1. (See Feb. 6 University Times.)

Legislators, who in recent years often have nudged Pitt’s appropriation above the amount initially proposed, this year held fast to the governor’s flat-funding plan for Pitt, approving a FY15 appropriation of nearly $134 million for general support and $2.3 million for rural education outreach. That bill (HB2335) also awaits the governor’s signature.

Academic medical center funding, which comes through the Department of Public Welfare as part of the general fund budget, also is expected to be relatively flat this year, said Supowitz. State funding for Pitt’s medical school was about $11.5 million in FY14.

While Pitt is facing flat funding, the University had requested a 5 percent increase (see Oct. 10, 2013, University Times), a level at which it would hold tuition increases to 3 percent and increase the compensation pool 2.5 percent.

University officials have noted that the current appropriation is the equivalent of Pitt’s FY95 appropriation, unadjusted for inflation, although the Consumer Price Index has increased 53 percent and the Higher Education Price Index has risen 77 percent in the past two decades.

—Kimberly K. Barlow