State-relateds ask for additional funding

The University of Pittsburgh has had its state funding cut in eight of the past 12 years.

The University of Pittsburgh will request a 14.7 percent increase in state funding for its next operating budget, a Pitt spokesman said last week.

This increase amounts to $20 million, of which $11 million would help avoid a larger tuition increase, $7 million would make up for inflation and $2 million would be spent on programs relating to economic growth, according to Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s cover letter from the appropriations request.

“The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been a critical partner in our ability to provide Pennsylvania students with the opportunity to receive the highest quality university education,” Gallagher wrote. “One important component of that partnership has been the ability to use Commonwealth funding to offer substantial tuition discounts to Pennsylvania students.”

If the appropriations request is approved by the state legislature and signed by the governor, Pitt’s state funding would jump to about $156.3 million for the Fiscal Year 2016. The governor who signs that request will be the winner of November’s upcoming gubernatorial election.

Pitt is the third state-related university to ask for a funding increase for the coming fiscal year of more than 3 percent, which would account for inflation. Temple asked for a 5 percent increase in its Commonwealth appropriation to cover expenses and make up for money lost from inflation combined with three years of flat state funding.

Penn State requested a 6 percent increase to cover a new “entrepreneur-in-residence” program and additional funding for the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

A Lincoln University spokesman did not return multiple requests for comment on the school’s requested state appropriation.

Pitt, like Temple, has recently received cuts in state funding. According to the university’s financial documents, it received eight reductions in state funding between 2000 and 2012.  In 2010, Pitt halted all salary increases for faculty and staff and canceled numerous construction projects. Temple has cut $110 million from its budget since its state funding was cut.

Corbett proposed cutting Temple’s funding by more than half in 2011. If passed, it would have been the biggest cut in Commonwealth appropriations since the state-related system was created more than four decades ago. Instead, there was a 20 percent cut in funding, or roughly $32 million.

The year following those cuts, Temple received a five percent rise in commonwealth appropriations. Since 2012, Temple has seen level funding at $139.9 million.

After cuts in funding, Pitt, Temple and Penn State raised tuition: Temple by 3.69 percent, Penn State by 2.73 percent and Pitt by 3.3 percent overall and 3.9 percent for students attending class at the Pittsburgh campus.

In addition to the state-related schools, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the entity which governs Pennsylvania’s 14 public universities, requested a 12 percent increase in funding on Oct. 9, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The $49.9 million increase would raise PASSHE’s budget to $462.7 million.

PASSHE’s budget was cut 18 percent for the 2012 fiscal year and it has not received an increase in seven years. Its state appropriation currently sits at slightly less than $413 million.

Joe Brandt can be reached at and on twitter @JBrandt_TU

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