Governor Tom Wolf allowed the passing of a bill related to Pitt’s funding for the 2015-2016 fiscal year after months of struggling to come up with a clear solution. The bill gives a 5% increase in funding from the previous year and benefits state-related universities, including Pitt, Temple, Penn State, and Lincoln.
Although Governor Wolf allowed the passing of the budget, he did so without signing the bill.
“Governor Wolf didn’t sign the budget, which still went into law, as a symbolic measure to indicate that while he wanted to ensure that a budget was done, he didn’t agree with the lack of fundamental solutions to major, still existing budget problems,” said Professor Paul Adams, Associate Professor of Political Science at Pitt-Greensburg and chair of the Behavioral Sciences Division.
“The budget passed by the state legislature is still fundamentally an unbalanced budget with about a $2 billion deficit that will be there by the end of the fiscal year in late June,” said Professor Adams.
In a mass email sent out to students and faculty, Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said the passing of the bill helps to resolve some, but not all, of the outstanding budget issues that Pitt was having for the current fiscal year.
“I’m happy that funding increased by a little, but less happy that it is still way below what it was just a few years ago and far, far below the state averages from the past five decades,” said Professor Adams.
Governor Wolf was originally planning on restoring 10-15% but only ended up going with 5%.
“5% does help some, but very little if you look at the long-term trends,” said Professor Adams. With only a 5% increase in funding, it’s harder to make tuition more affordable for in-state students. The 5% increase will allow Pitt-Greensburg to avoid cutting faculty or staff that are important to instruction and education.
Even though they will have the money to preserve faculty and staff, the lack of funding plays a role in the inability to replace faculty and staff who retire or leave throughout the years.
The budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year will need to be passed by July of 2016. State-related schools are obviously looking for another increase to funding, but only time will tell what Governor Tom Wolf will decide to do for next year’s budget.
“The general feeling is that there will be an increase in funding again next year,” said Professor Adams. “…hopefully they can compromise a little better this year and realize that the lack of state funding hurts working class and middle class families trying to put people through college.”