Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

May 15, 1997

State approves 3 percent hike in University's appropriation

On April 8, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg took part in a historic series of meetings in Harrisburg.

On one side of the table (rhetorically speaking) were the chancellors and presidents of Pitt and Pennsylvania's three other state-related universities, the state-owned universities and community colleges.

On the other side were 30 of the state's most powerful legislators, including the House and Senate majority and minority leaders, the Speaker of the House, the Senate president pro tem and chairpersons of key committees.

Never before had Penn-sylvania's higher education chief executives assembled to meet with so many General Assembly movers and shakers.

Nordenberg and his colleagues lobbied for two things: * A 3 percent increase in the schools' state appropriations for next year — 1 percent higher than what Gov. Tom Ridge and the state House were recommending.

* Elimination of a House-proposed tuition cap plan that would have denied any state educational and general (E&G) money to a state-supported university that failed to hold its fall 1997 in-state tuition hikes to 4.5 percent. E&G funding accounts for all but $16.4 million of Pitt's $148.6 million current fiscal year appropriation.

"By and large," Nordenberg announced to Senate Council on Monday, "I think we have achieved those goals." The following morning, May 13, Gov. Ridge formally approved a nearly $153.2 million Pitt appropriation for FY 1997-98 that represents a 3.1 percent increase over the University's current year funding.

Ridge, together with the House and Senate, also eliminated the threatened tuition cap. For the first time in years, the state government will not punish state-supported universities financially for increasing tuition above a state-designated percentage.

Pitt also received larger-than-expected line item appropriations under the state's general fund budget.

But the downside to Pitt's good news is that the extra 1 percent in the University's state appropriation is one-time funding earmarked for special projects.

Apparently, the special projects money won't be rolled into next year's Pitt appropriation. "It could be, but we certainly have no assurance that it will, especially given that it was identified as separate from the E&G line in the current year budget," said Dennis P. McManus, Pitt assistant vice chancellor for Governmental Relations.

Nordenberg said the nearly $1.49 million will go toward three special projects that Pitt had identified as high priorities in its state budget request last fall: laboratory modernization, deferred maintenance and initiatives to improve student life.

The University has not yet determined how much money will go to each project, Nordenberg said. (Pitt's budget request had asked the state for $1.75 million for lab modernization, $2 million for deferred maintenance and $1.25 million for student life initiatives.) "Essentially, every university got the same thing this year," said Ann Dykstra, Pitt Commonwealth Relations director. "All four of the state-related schools, the [14-university] State System of Higher Education and the community colleges all got 2 percent increases in their existing line items plus an additional 1 percent designated for special projects.

"The only exception to that," Dykstra added, "is that the state system received $1.7 million for its Prometheus Project, which is a distance education project. But that money is contingent on a dollar-for-dollar match from the private sector." Pitt's appropriation includes the following: * $134.88 million in educational and general funds, a $2.65 million increase over the University's current year E&G funding.

* $327,000 for services to disadvantaged students, a $6,000 increase.

* $6.364 million for the School of Medicine, up by $125,000.

* $7.847 million for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, an increase of $154,000.

* $1.051 million for the Dental Clinic, a $21,000 increase.

* $507,000 for Western Psych's Services for Teens at Risk suicide prevention center, up by $10,000.

* $255,000 for the Center for Public Health Practice, a $5,000 increase.

* $465,000 for rural education outreach at the Bradford campus, a $165,000 increase.

* $1.486 million in one-time funding for special projects (lab modernization, deferred maintenance and student life initiatives).

All of the increases amount to 2 percent except for a 1.9 percent increase for disadvantaged students and a whopping 55 percent for rural education outreach.

In its state budget request last fall, Pitt had requested $375,000 for the Bradford-based rural outreach, while Gov. Ridge in his February budget proposal had recommended $306,000 — compared with the $465,000 approved this week.

In addition to the funding Pitt will receive through its state appropriation, the University will share state money allocated to six general fund line items. They include: * $200,000 for the Pitt law school's Elder Law Clinic under the line item, legal advocacy for older Pennsylvanians.

* An estimated $425,000 for new equipment through the state's Higher Education Equipment Grants Program. For the last several years, only private universities qualified for these grants, said Dykstra of Commonwealth Relations. * An estimated $76,000 for engineering equipment grants. "This program has come and gone over the years," Dykstra noted.

* An anticipated $550,000 for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute through an overall appropriation to four Pennsylvania regional cancer institutes.

* $100,000 for Pitt's Ethnic Heritage Studies Center.

* $2 million for the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, jointly operated by Pitt, Carnegie Mellon University and Westinghouse Electric Corp., a $500,000 increase over the current state appropriation. Gov. Ridge did not recommend any funding for the center in his original budget proposal. But Ridge released that proposal before the National Science Foundation announced that it will phase out NSF financial support of the Pittsburgh center (currently, $15 million annually) over the next two years.

Now that lawmakers have approved a state budget, the Pitt administration — with input from faculty and staff through the University Planning and Budgeting System — can finalize a Pitt budget for presentation to the Board of Trustees' budget committee on June 19 and to the full board on June 26.

The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Chancellor Nordenberg told Senate Council: "We should be able to complete our own budget far earlier this year than has been true in the past when we have been waiting until the end of June or the beginning of July to find out what the state appropriation would be." For now, next year's employee salary raises and tuition increases remain unspecified. Last fall, the administration proposed limiting tuition hikes to 4.5 percent and boosting the compensation budget by 4.5 percent. But those proposals were based on a requested appropriation $10 million higher than the one Gov. Ridge approved this week.

FY 1997-98 "will be another difficult year," Nordenberg warned, "with only a 2 percent increase to the [University's] basic operating budget." The chancellor thanked the University Senate's commonwealth relations committee, the Alumni Legislative Network, Pitt trustees, staff and student groups for their help in lobbying state lawmakers.

— Bruce Steele

Leave a Reply