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July 10, 2008

State appropriation up 1.5 percent

While Pennsylvania’s $28.26 billion general fund budget for 2008-09 represents a 4 percent increase from last year, the total appropriation for its four state-related universities is rising 1.5 percent.

The new budget, signed by legislators July 4, increases Pitt’s appropriation by 1.5 percent, sticking close to the appropriation proposed by Gov. Edward G. Rendell, but falling far short of the 8.5 percent increase the University requested. Pitt said it needed that amount to limit tuition increases to 4 percent and to increase the compensation pool by at least 4 percent for fiscal year 2009, which began July 1.

Pitt’s appropriation of $170.73 million represents an increase of $2.56 million over last year’s $168.17 million.

Pitt’s Education and General line item was increased 1.5 percent, rising from last year’s $164.31 million to $166.78 million. Rural education outreach received a $100,000 increase, bringing the appropriation for that line item to $2.56 million.

Other line items in Pitt’s appropriation were frozen at last year’s levels: $442,000 for recruitment of the disadvantaged; $523,000 for the Western Teen Suicide Center, and $435,000 for student life initiatives.

State support for Pitt’s fellow state-related universities also increased for FY09. Penn State received $338.38 million, an increase of 1.2 percent; Temple was allocated $175.5 million, an increase of 1.5 percent; and Lincoln received $14.5 million, a 5.1 percent increase over last year.

State support for four other programs at Pitt comes through the Department of Public Welfare with matching federal funds as part of a federalization initiative implemented in FY06.

Each saw a 0.5 percent increase in the new budget. Pitt’s School of Medicine will receive $9.07 million; Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, $7.96 million; the dental clinic, $1.07 million, and the Center for Public Health Practice, $417,000, bringing the combined total of state support to $189.25 million.

Pitt Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations and associate general counsel Paul Supowitz said the appropriation increase, which did not keep pace with inflation (2.8 percent in 2007, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data) “continues to pose challenges to the University.” He noted that aside from the state appropriation, tuition is the only other flexible source of revenue for the University. Donations to the University often are restricted for a particular purpose and research dollars are limited to the specific projects for which they were awarded. “Tuition is the one source of revenue that can adjust for shortfalls,” Supowitz said.

The impact on tuition and the employee salary pool soon will be known. The Pitt Board of Trustees’ budget and executive committees will meet at 8:10 a.m. tomorrow in 2700 Posvar Hall to set Pitt’s FY09 budget.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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