Penn State appropriation from Commonwealth still up in the air

The passage of Pennsylvania's $27.8 billion budget on Oct. 9 after a 101-day stalemate was good news, but it still leaves Penn State and other state-related institutions without an appropriation.
 
While the media is reporting the end of the state's longest budget impasse in history, few are taking note of the fact that the state has not enacted its nonpreferred appropriations — the category under which Penn State falls. Which means that Penn State has not received any allocation of funds.
 
Appropriations made to institutions not under the absolute control of the Commonwealth (such as Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln) are considered nonpreferred appropriations. Each institution's appropriation requires a separate bill and two-thirds vote of each House of the General Assembly in order to pass.
 
The general appropriation bill that was just signed by Gov. Ed Rendell and which is receiving media attention, contains appropriations for the executive, legislative and judicial departments and public schools, and covers public debt.
 
"We are still without a state appropriation 30 percent of the way into our fiscal year," said Bill Mahon, vice president for University Relations.  "We are watching developments closely from day-to-day and getting by as best we can without an appropriation. It could be misleading to our students and their families to make guesses about what might or might not happen in the coming days or weeks."
 
Since July, Penn State has covered its appropriation shortfall through reserves. In addition, the University fronted money this semester to students who expected to receive a Pennsylvania state grant administered through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) in the amount of $25 million — the total expected grant amount for 17,000 Penn State students.
 
"We are continuing to manage our finances in ways that will not interfere with operations and with the education of our students," Mahon said. "We're hoping for an outcome soon."

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Last Updated October 13, 2009