HARRISBURG -- While a closed-door joint committee hammers out a new state budget, one state senator has proposed that lawmakers use their extra time to speed consideration on a bill which might affect policies on public disclosure of the University's budget. However, Senator Chaka Fattah (D-Philadelphia), who is the minority leader of the Senate Education Committee which is currently considering the bill, said that full House and Senate debate of the measure would probably wait until fall. He added Monday that the final bill will most likely not include the University. The current proposal would apply to both the eleven state aided schools, such as the University, and the state related schools, including Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh. "We'd prefer not to be in it in the present form," said Assistant Vice President for Commonwealth Relations James Shada yesterday. "It's early at this point since the Education Committee has not met on the bill, and we hear second- or third-hand that there will be changes on the bill." Fattah said he also expects the bill to be amended, excluding state related schools, or those institutions which receive less than five percent of their total budget funding from the state. "I think it puts universities at a competitive disadvantage," Fattah said Monday. Fattah said the proposal acts as a "disincentive" in many university procedures, including faculty hiring and recruitment. Under the proposed law, faculty salaries would become public knowledge, making competitive bargaining with potential recruits difficult. Although he said the same arguments can be made for keeping budget information private for state related schools, the larger state funding appropriations these schools receive may, in the eyes of lawmakers, justify making the information available to state taxpayers. In calling for faster consideration of the bill, Stapleton cited the recent public disclosure of a multi-million dollar retirement package and $700,000 in low-interest mortgage loans offered to outgoing University of Pittsburgh president Wesley Posvar by Pitt trustees. The scandal has touched off a round of state investigations conducted by state Auditor General Barbara Hafer.Comments powered by Disqus
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