By SUSAN JONES
Pitt and the three other state-related universities — Penn State, Temple and Lincoln — will for the second year in a row see no increase in funding in the 2021-22 state budget that Gov. Tom Wolf signed on June 30.
On June 25, the budget passed the House by 140-61, and the Senate by a 43-7 vote. The budget calls for no increase in personal or business taxes and directs more money to primary and secondary schools and human services programs.
It puts into savings about $5 billion of the $7 billion in federal coronavirus relief money the state received and boosts K-12 education state support by $300 million.
The funding for Pitt is $151.5 million in general funds plus $3.3 million for rural education outreach. In 2019, Pitt and the other state-related universities received a 2 percent funding increase, which brought funding up to the current levels.
In the fall, Pitt had requested a 5 percent increase from the state. Wolf’s proposed budget, which was released in February, contained flat funding for Pitt and the three other state-related universities.
Prior to the pandemic, Pitt’s funding from the state had increased each of the previous six years.
The supplemental appropriation for Pitt, which comes through the Department of Education, is for the full 12 months starting July 1, 2021.
In 2019, money from the state made up 7 percent of Pitt’s total budget and 14 percent when research funding was removed from the equation. Those percentages for this year won’t be determined until the University sets its budget later this month and the Executive and Budget Committees of the Board of Trustees approve it.
Last year’s University budget, set in the peak of the pandemic last July, included a salary freeze, no tuition hikes, a 78 percent reduction in capital spending and a permanent budget cut of 3.7 percent across the board on average, along with a one-time cut of 5 percent.
Pitt has received $106.6 million in federal stimulus money during the pandemic, including $54.7 million announced in May. Half of all the stimulus money was designated for direct student aid. Much of the rest has been spent to offset pandemic-related expenses and restart costs.
In May, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said last year’s salary freeze was not a long-term strategy, “it’s a tactic.”
“But at the same time, we were tight before the pandemic. We absorbed a lot of one-time cost, we’re going to be tight coming out of the pandemic,” he said. “I know that the budget teams are looking very carefully at how do we balance this correctly, but I don’t foresee freezes at this time — pay freezes or hiring freezes. … Hopefully, we get back to kind of more normal budget setting processes.”
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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