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July 24, 2003

University’s appropriation delayed until lawmakers resolve state’s revenue picture

Pennsylvania legislators aren’t likely to approve a fiscal year 2003-04 appropriation bill for Pitt, and forward it to the governor’s desk, until they have resolved the overall revenue problem for the state. And that includes answering the thorny question of whether to legalize slot machines.

“I think the earliest [that Pitt’s appropriation bill will be approved] will be late this month or in early August, but that’s very speculative at this point,” said Paul A. Supowitz, Pitt director of Commonwealth, City and County Relations.

The Pennsylvania budget approved in March proposed cutting state funding for Pitt and other state-related universities by 5 percent for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Pitt officials have been lobbying state lawmakers to restore at least some of those funds in the University’s final appropriation. “But, again, it’s not clear how that will play out,” Supowitz said.

He predicted that House and Senate members will agree on a compromise bill legalizing slots. “It’s pretty certain that the Senate won’t pass the version of the bill that came out of the House,” Supowitz said. The House bill proposes broadening the original idea of installing slots at eight licensed horse-racing tracks to include an additional track as well as two off-track slots parlors. Gambling revenue is viewed as being essential in helping to fund property tax relief for local taxpayers in Pennsylvania.

— Bruce Steele

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