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November 20, 2003

Pitt submits state request for FY05

To help reverse the decline in its state funding in recent years, Pitt is asking Harrisburg to restore the University’s commonwealth appropriation to the level that Pitt originally was budgeted to get two years ago: $178.5 million.

Pitt also is seeking an additional $6 million for laboratory renovations and upgrades, similar to line-item funding that Harrisburg previously granted Pitt (and subsequently folded into the University’s base appropriation) for lab improvements.

“With this level of commonwealth support, it would be our hope to limit tuition increases to 4 percent and to increase the compensation pool [of money for salaries] by at least 4 percent for the next fiscal year,” Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg wrote in the fiscal year 2005 budget request that Pitt submitted to Harrisburg this week.

Lawmakers haven’t yet approved Pitt’s state appropriation for the current fiscal year (FY 2004) but, in response to a request from Harrisburg, the University this week submitted its funding request for FY05, which begins next July 1.

While Pitt was budgeted to get a $178.5 million state appropriation two years ago, the University ended up absorbing a 3 percent ($5.35 million) freeze that year. That money never was restored.

Pitt’s FY03 appropriation was reduced by 3.7 percent ($6.5 million) from the previous year, and then 2 percent of that funding was frozen during the year and never received by the University.

For the current fiscal year, Gov. Ed Rendell has proposed a further 5 percent cut in appropriations to Pennsylvania’s state-related universities, including Pitt. This recommendation — which state legislators are expected to approve, eventually — would reduce Pitt’s appropriation by more than $15 million below its FY 2002 approved funding of $178.5 million, Chancellor Nordenberg pointed out.

The state House of Representatives held a “token session” yesterday and isn’t expected to act on Pitt’s appropriation soon. “Maybe they’re negotiating behind the scenes, but in terms of moving any legislation ahead on our appropriation, it’s not happening this week and probably not before Thanksgiving,” said Paul A. Supowitz, Pitt associate vice chancellor for Commonwealth, City and County Relations.

The House is scheduled to resume meeting on Dec. 8, although legislative leaders could put representatives on 24-hour call and bring them back to Harrisburg on short notice, said Supowitz.

Preparing Pitt’s FY05 budget request was especially challenging, he said. “Normally, you key off the previous fiscal year for the coming year,” Supowitz noted, “but obviously we didn’t have the ability to do that this year.”

— Bruce Steele                            


Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 7

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