Large-scale cuts in the state budget announced this month will cost the University $1.3 million in state contributions, a loss that will hit the Veterinary School especially hard. According to University administrators, the Veterinary School, which receives 40 percent of its funding from the state, will lose $537,000 through the cuts. The University's general fund, which pays for some scholarships, fellowships and research, will get its grant cut $582,000. The Medical School will also suffer, losing $161,000, and the Dental School will not get $37,000 of its state allocation. The budget cuts, which the state government announced in early January, are the worst in remembered history, according to University officials. In Casey's announcement on January 7, the governor said he would cut all state higher education funding by 3.5 percent for the current fiscal year in an effort to balance the budget. When the original budget for Fiscal Year 1991 was released in July, the University was told it would receive a one-percent increase over last year's state funding. This amount was already less than administrators had expected. Between July's small gain and this month's heavy cuts, Provost Michael Aiken said this week that the state gave the University $2.5 million dollars less than administrators expected this fiscal year. According to Ben Hoyle, the University's acting budget director, the last time the state withdrew money already granted to the University was in 1975. He noted, however, that those withholdings only amounted to 1 percent of total state contributions. With this slash in state grants, Pennsylvania joins several other states that have had to make mid-year cuts in order to balance their budgets. James Shada, the University's lobbyist in Harrisburg, said Casey made the reductions to cover the difference between rising welfare costs and falling income-tax revenues throughout the state. Hoyle predicted that state funding would not increase next year and may go down again. "We would be lucky if [funding] is held in Fiscal Year 1992," Hoyle said. "But the tone from Harrisburg suggests we should expect further reductions." Aiken said this week that the cuts will make the University "tighten our belts" this year, adding that much of the state money was already committed before the reductions were announced. He said the University will feel the effects of the cuts more next year because administrators had to dip into University reserves in order to cover this year's expenses. "This is not a crisis . . . but we've lost much flexibility," Aiken said. "We won't be able to give as much in certain areas." Aiken said areas of the University that may be affected include graduate fellowships, salary reserves, Trustee professors and research. He added that the recent budget cuts will have no effect on next year's tuition rates because most of the calculations for the 1991-92 school year have been completed. Aiken said administrators are "trying to hold down the growth of tuition," but added there is no way to tell what effect the state's budget cuts will have on future tuition rates. Veterinary School Dean Edwin Andrews said yesterday the budget constraints "put [the school] back to a 1986-1987 funding level." He added that Vet School tuition should not be affected by the cuts because student money covers only 13 percent of the school's expenses. The dean said he plans to appeal to the University for money during the budget crisis, and said the school is currently in a hiring freeze. But he added that he has no plans to lay off any employees.Comments powered by Disqus
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