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The new budget would reduce the cuts in the University's state appropriation levels proposed by Governor Robert Casey earlier this year from an $18.6 million reduction to apporoximately a $5 million cut. The House proposal returns all Veterinary School funding removed in the governor's budget, and reinstates much of the money cut from the University's instructional, medical and dental funding lines. Administrators universally expressed pleasure and relief over the proposal this week, but were quick to stress they are not taking the proposal for granted and are continuing efforts to increase the University's state appropriation. The new plan is far from set in stone. The proposal sent on by the Democrat controlled House has already met some resistance in the Republican controlled Senate, since the House plan did not include a tax proposal to fund the budget. Even officials familiar with state government are refusing to estimate when the budget process will be finalized, or even if it will be completed by the mandated June 30 deadline. "In order for all this to happen they need not only a budget, but a tax plan to fund it," Senior Vice President Marna Whittington said Tuesday. "So I think we have a long way to go." Earlier this year, administrators developed a comprehensive plan to deal with the governor's proposed $18.6 million cuts, which included reducing faculty and staff by 300 positions, freezing all capital projects and asking Trustees for a $6 million deficit. Yet, although it now seems likely the University will not have to take the drastic measures planned in the event of an $18.6 million shortfall, those measures have not been revised or updated to reflect the new proposal. "We will be going through all this a hundred times if we do that," Provost Michael Aiken said Tuesday. He did nonetheless indicate that restoring academic programs potentially frozen under the emergency plan is a high priority. Both Aiken and Whittington said the University's top priority would be to use additional appropriations to avoid the $6.7 million deficit the executive committee of the Trustees approved for the coming fiscal year. Veterinary School Dean Edwin Andrews expressed some relief over the proposed reinstatement of the school's appropriations, but indicated that his feelings were still somewhat mixed. Andrews said the new proposal offers the same appropriation as last year, without any increases to compensate for inflation. He added that even with the restoration of the funds, other fiscal pressures, including inflation, have Vet School administrators looking for ways to cover an expected $2 million shortfall next year. "It's not like we're fat cats," Andrews said Tuesday. "We're very lean, in fact." Andrews said that he and the constituents of the Vet School will continue to lobby Harrisburg as they have in the past. "Until it's a done deal you're always at risk in this game," Andrews said. "I don't think we're taking anything for granted at all."

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