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Gov. Josh Shapiro's proposed budget for the School of Veterinary Medicine and Penn Medicine’s Center of Infectious Diseases marks a 2% increase from the current fiscal year. Credit: Julia Van Lare

Penn may remain the only private university in Pennsylvania to receive state-level funding following a new budget proposal from Gov. Josh Shapiro, leading to an increase in funding for Penn Vet and Penn Division of Infectious Diseases.

The newly inaugurated governor, a Democrat, proposed an increase of more than $650,000 in funding for the School of Veterinary Medicine and Penn Medicine’s Center of Infectious Diseases in his 2023-24 executive budget on March 7. In total, the budget would allocate around $32.3 million to Penn Vet and $1.93 million to the Center of Infectious Diseases, marking a 2% increase from the current fiscal year budget.

The funding for Penn Vet falls under the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Penn Vet is the only veterinary school in the state and has received state funding for almost 140 years. 

“Penn Vet appreciates Governor Shapiro’s proposed funding to the School as part of his fiscal year 2023-2024 budget request,” Penn Vet spokesperson Martin Hackett wrote in a statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Penn Vet’s role in responding to the ongoing, highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak demonstrates that the School is a vitally important partner to the Commonwealth.” 

As noted in the budget, Penn Vet partners with the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System, which includes  the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory in Harrisburg, Pa. The Animal Diagnostic Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University is also a partner.

In June 2021, Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives threatened Penn Vet’s funding due to its COVID-19 vaccination requirement for employees. Prior to that, Penn Vet’s $30 million — or 20% of its then-operating budget — in state funding was in jeopardy for four months for the fiscal year 2017. 

The Division of Infectious Diseases, housed under Penn Med, has received funding from the state since the fiscal year 2006-2007. Between 2011 and 2021, it received around $300,000 annually, according to state records. However, in the 2022-2023 budget, the Center saw a 540% increase in funding, receiving nearly $1.9 million. The recent budget model, however, proposes a more modest increase of $38,000. 

While Penn is the only private university included in the budget, community colleges and state-related universities, such as Temple University, are also included. The budget — which plans to increase spending by $1.6 billion — includes a more than $60 million increase in funding for higher education institutions.

“This budget builds on recent investments into the basic education system to allow children to chart their own course, whether through postsecondary opportunities, or through vocational, technical, and career training,” Shapiro wrote in his introduction to his budget proposal. 

The budget plan is projected to use $2 billion from state reserves due to minimal tax increases, but current tax collections yield $11 billion in reserve cash, according to WHYY-FM.  

Shapiro was elected in the November 2022 midterm elections, where he defeated Republican candidate Doug Mastriano. Five Penn community members joined his transition team.