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Several Pennsylvania legislators said yesterday that they think the state will restore some funding to the University this year. The state government cut the University's funding of $36 million this year and scaled back funding of every state school including Temple, Thomas Jefferson and Pennsylvania State universities. But despite State Budget Director Michael Harshock's warning last year that institutions should not expect to recover funding cuts, some legislators said that the state will allocate some money to the University. Senator Richard Tilghman (R), whose district includes parts of West Philadelphia, said yesterday that he believes the University will recoup at least 90 percent of its funding in the upcoming budget. "I don't think that [the loss of funding] will be the final outcome," Tilghman said. "I don't think you can take a university like Penn and lop off $36 million." Last year, Governor Robert Casey ignored a University request for $41.2 million, and this summer the state legislature approved the budget. Casey, although approving $176,000 for the University Museum, cut funding to the Veterinary School, which depends heavily upon the state for funding. The loss of funding has left the future of the Veterinary School, the only one of its kind in the state, in doubt. But legislators said the state cannot afford to ignore the University, which is the largest private employer in the city and an integral part of the local economy. Tilghman cited the University's telephone bill, which he said is one of the largest private bills in the state, as an example of the extent of the impact the University has on the local economy. He said that if the state plans to cut funding -- an option he does not necessarily support -- "they should cut it over a period of years." And he said that after last year's cut in funding, "a lot of pressure was placed on [Governor Casey]." There is "an obligation that government has to fund such institutions" today, although the government may have avoided funding universities in the past, Tilghman said. "A lot of people connected with these institutions have been talking to Governor Casey and the Democrats," Tilghman said. Echoing Tilghman, Senator Allyson Schwartz said that "the University of Pennsylvania is not alone in its position." Schwartz, who also represents parts of West Philadelphia, said she supports some restoration of funding for universities in Pennsylvania and added that, particularly in Philadelphia, universities are important economically. But pressure to restore state funding to the University and other state schools has not just come from politicians. Last spring, the University released an independent study which examined the University's economic role on a city, regional and state level. According to the report, the University generates $2.5 billion to the state's economy. It also showed that for every $1 million invested in the University, 50 jobs are created. In an effort to increase the pressure on lawmakers, the University distributed copies of the report to local and state politicians in the spring. Tilghman said that local unions could also have an impact on funding for universities. He has received calls from local Teamsters union officials who seem concerned about the future of union jobs at city universities now that funding has been cut. When Casey announced his proposal to slash state funding to the University, he said last year that "our public universities and institutions must come first," and added that "we only have enough money to take care of the public's own." In cutting funding, Casey ended a centuries-long relationship between the state and the University.

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