Chancellor's Message on the State Budget

March 2, 2016

 

Dear Pitt Community:
 
I am writing from Harrisburg, where I’m participating in General Assembly budget hearings and a joint press conference alongside the presidents of the other state-related universities—Penn State, Lincoln and Temple.

The focus of our conversations today is the lack of—and need for—predictable state funding for our schools.

Just a few weeks ago, we had bicameral, bipartisan support for multiyear funding increases for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities. And today, we have watched this consensus morph into a dangerous game of political brinksmanship, with the funding of state-related universities becoming a key bargaining chip.     

Each day without action in Harrisburg, we face the growing possibility of receiving no state funding. This amounts to a $147 million budget deficit for the current year. And while we are cutting costs where we can, it is impossible to try and cut ourselves out of this multimillion dollar hole.   

For the past month, I have been working to drive this issue into the limelight. To start, I co-authored an op-ed with the presidents of the three state-related universities. This article, which appeared in newspapers throughout the commonwealth, called attention to the fact that we were now an unprecedented eight months into the current budget cycle with no state funding in sight.

Last week, I highlighted this issue at our Board of Trustees meeting.  I discussed how over the long term—in the absence of a firm and standing commitment from the state—our students and their families would be forced assume this financial burden.  

Student debt is already high due to a decade of anemic state funding.  We are committed to doing everything we can to keep an excellent education accessible, but our options are limited in the face of no funding or further reductions.

We will continue advancing these advocacy efforts, including Pitt Day in Harrisburg on March 22. This is a day when our most important allies—students, faculty, staff and alumni—travel to Harrisburg to speak directly with our state lawmakers and tell them of Pitt’s immeasurable value to the commonwealth.

But we need your help.

Please visit WithPitt.com to get involved and help Pitt tell Harrisburg how important our state funding is to us. There you’ll find talking points, sample letters, an easy way to contact state leaders, and other resources to help Pitt make its case for state funding.

Let’s show Harrisburg that With Pitt, Pennsylvania Wins.

Sincerely,

Patrick Gallagher