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April 13, 2000

State house recommends 2.5% increase in Pitt's appropriation

The state House of Rep- resentatives on April 11 approved a $172 million appropriation for Pitt for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The House also approved funding bills for Pennsylvania's other state-related universities: $332 million for Penn State, $173.5 million for Temple and $12 million for Lincoln.

The bills will be sent to the Senate for consideration. Wrangling over the schools' appropriations will begin in earnest early next month when the General Assembly's conference committee begins meeting. The committee includes representatives of the House and Senate, who negotiate with the governor's office on budget details.

Because state-related schools are not owned or controlled by the state, their appropriations are handled separately from the overall state budget bill that the House approved on April 10.

"It's still very early in the budget process," said Pitt Commonwealth Relations Director Ann M. Dykstra. "At this point, the House is just moving bills into position. It's quite possible that the House will eventually end up considering budget numbers for Pitt that are different from the ones approved this week."

Under the House bill approved on Tuesday, Pitt would receive a 2.5 percent increase in its appropriation next year.

The House's recommended budget numbers for Pitt are identical to the ones Gov. Tom Ridge recommended in the budget he proposed in February:

* $149.76 million for educational and general expenses;

* $6.9 million for the medical school;

* $1.14 million for the dental clinic;

* $355,000 to recruit and retain disadvantaged students;

* $8.5 million for the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic;

* $549,000 for Western Psych's teen suicide center;

* $277,000 for the Graduate School of Public Health's Center for Public Health Practice;

* $803,000 for rural education outreach, and

* $3.5 million for special program initiatives, including upgrading information technology.

The total recommended appropriation is about $5.5 million less than the University requested. Pitt wants state lawmakers to increase its current $167.6 million appropriation by 5.8 percent.

"We're always hopeful that the General Assembly will see its collective way to increasing our appropriation above the governor's proposals," Dykstra said. "We've been successful at securing additional funding in recent years."

Last year, for example, Ridge proposed a 2.5 percent increase for Pitt. But in the final budget, the University's funding was upped by 5.9 percent. That included a one-time, $4.5 million line item for labs and equipment.

Pitt's budget request is based on 4 percent increases in tuition and the pool of salary money for faculty and staff.

— Bruce Steele


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