Penn’s state funding was slashed by almost $12 million, or 25.6 percent, in the budget approved by Gov. Edward Rendell earlier this month.
The School of Veterinary Medicine suffered the greatest loss, with an overall state funding decrease of 19.7 percent.
This cut in funding includes a decrease of $5.2 million in funding for veterinary activities and the complete elimination of funding for its Center for Infectious Diseases.
The Vet School is the only school of veterinary medicine in Pennsylvania, and in the past has relied heavily on state funding.
With the lack of state financial support, the Center for Infectious Diseases — which received $3.2 million in state funding last year — will be shutting down, according to Vet School dean Joan Hendricks.
“New diseases come from animals and come into people,” she said, citing avian flu, swine flu and rabies. “We were looking to put together a top research team to look into those kinds of diseases.”
Despite the size of these cuts, they are not as severe as Vet School administrators had originally anticipated — Hendricks told The Daily Pennsylvanian last month that the school was making preparations for a 24-percent cut.
According to Hendricks, the Vet School has already begun to downsize, eliminating 10 to 15 percent of its workforce.
It eliminated its public relations department and will not replace about 100 people who have either quit or been laid off, she said. Also, almost all nurses have received pay cuts.
“There will be a regeneration at some point,” Hendricks said of the school’s staffing changes. “But [the legislators] just don’t have the money [now].”
She said she has spent time with many lawmakers, including Rendell, and animal interest groups in the state who are concerned about the quality of veterinary care the Vet School will now be able to provide.
“We’re all very concerned about the health of those animals,” she said. “This is a crucial need.”
The state budget also eliminated funding for Penn’s dental clinics, cardiovascular studies and medical programs — cuts totaling $3.3 million — and reduced support for the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology by 55 percent, a reduction of $138,000.
But although the decrease in funding was disappointing, “it’s not a big part of the total budget,” Penn Museum spokeswoman Pam Kosty said.
It is still unclear where the $34.5 million in total funding Penn was allocated — almost all of it going to the Vet School — will come from.
The money is supposed to come from the revenue generated by the legalization of table games in casinos, a bill which lawmakers have not yet been able to agree upon.
Pennsylvania State University and other schools face the same uncertainty about the along $700 million they were allocated.
Rendell said he would veto any bill that does not generate at least $200 million in revenue from table games this year, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.Comments powered by Disqus
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