Government Affairs Update
date, Congress has passed four of the required 13 appropriations
fiscal year 2004--those for Defense, Homeland Security, Department
of the Interior, and the Legislative Branch. Congress also
has completed, but not yet passed, the conference reports for
the Energy & Water and Military Construction appropriations.
Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund other parts
of the government
at 2003 levels until it passes the remaining reports, either
individually or in an omnibus package. Congress also passed
the report for supplemental appropriations for the war in and
reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.
leaders have set November 21, 2003 as the target for adjournment,
it is unclear whether Congress will be able to complete its
work by then. As of the publication of this document, reports
indicated that Congress had begun work on an omnibus package
to include most of the remaining reports and that an omnibus
conference could meet as early as Tuesday, November 18.
final Homeland Security report included $874 million for
and technology research and development, test and evaluation,
acquisition, and operations, and separately, $70 million for
university-based homeland security centers.
final Interior report included $122 million for the National
the Arts and $121 million for the National Endowment for the
Humanities (compared to $116 million and $110 million, respectively,
in fiscal year 2003).
the remaining reports, the Labor, Health and Human Services,
report is of particular concern to Penn and the higher education
community. This report includes funding for National Institutes
of Health (NIH) research and for federal student assistance.
Education Act Reauthorization
has begun to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, which
the major federal higher education programs. Penn and the higher
education community will continue to advocate strongly for
increased student aid and other measures to improve the Act.
and the higher education community are concerned about three
perceptions that have emerged in Congress and are playing out
in the media, that: (1) institutions are not doing all they
can to avoid tuition increases; (2) admissions policies, such
as early decision and legacy preferences, benefit institutions
but are unfair to low-income and underrepresented students;
and (3) a liberal bias in academia precludes a full and fair
discussion of issues on campuses.
perceptions are embodied by the following bills:
McKeon (R-CA) introduced a bill to penalize institutions that
increase tuition at twice the rate of inflation by not allowing
them, and by extension their students, to participate in certain
federal student aid programs.
Kennedy (D-MA) introduced a bill to require institutions (1)
with less than 40 percent of students receiving Pell Grants
and with a gap of 20 percentage points between the graduation
rates of any two subgroups of students disaggregated by race,
gender, and eligibility for Pell Grants to increase spending
on retention programs; and (2) to include information on average
tuition and fee discounts and the percentage of the previous
year's freshman class comprised of early decision and legacy
students (broken down by race and eligibility for Pell Grants)
in admissions packets.
House passed a bill to reauthorize international education
programs that establishes an advisory committee to Congress
and the Secretary of Education that could lead to federal intrusion
into academic decision-making. OGCPA is working with Dr. Walter
Licht and the Interareal Council (heads of Penn area studies
centers and programs) to develop recommendations for the Senate
reauthorization of these programs.
OGCPA will continue
to work independently and with the higher education community
to make Penn's and the community's perspective on these and
other issues heard throughout the House and Senate reauthorizations
has established an HEA Reauthorization Task Force that includes
from across the university to examine reauthorization issues.
Congressional Attack on NIH Research
At a recent
joint House-Senate hearing, Members asked NIH Director Zerhouni
about “controversial” research grants. The grants, which were
fully peer-reviewed by NIH, deal with health, sexuality, drug
abuse, and dangerous personal behavior. Three of the grantees
are from Penn. It is believed that the list of grants was provided
to Congressional staff by an interest group. Although its initial
response was tepid, NIH told the higher education community
this week that it categorically supported each of the grants
and plans to issue a strong statement on the matter, soon. OGCPA
is working with the higher education community to ensure that
politics not be allowed to interfere with scientific research.
the Senate-House Conference Committee continue to work to resolve
differences in the House and Senate versions of their competing Medicare
prescription drug bills that would offer prescription drug
coverage to the nation's 40 million Medicare beneficiaries.
The system would be overseen by the government offered through
Medicare and private health care companies, and financed partially
through government payments.
the conferees are also debating a series of provider payment
provisions included in the different versions of the Medicare
prescription drug bills. The nation's teaching hospitals are
looking for favorable outcomes on provisions restoring cuts
in Medicare's indirect medical education adjustment (and adjustment
that recognizes the unique mission and costs of America's teaching
hospitals) and providing for a full inflationary update for
the current fiscal year.
Bush has recently urged the Medicare conferees to complete
discussions and send a bill to him to sign into law by the
end of the year. The conferees have missed several self-imposed
deadlines, but hope to complete their negotiations in the coming
weeks. While they have reached tentative agreements on a number
of provider issues, the conferees have yet to reach an accord
on more contentious issues relating to program elements of
the prescription drug plan. Leadership hopes that this will
be resolved before they break for Thanksgiving.
In March, Governor
Rendell released his proposed FY 2003-04 Commonwealth budget
in two parts. As part of a “bare-bones” budget, he recommended
a total of $42,946,000 in direct funding to Penn, a reduction
of $2.3 million, or 5 percent, below the amount authorized
in the current fiscal year. Each of Penn's line items
in our non-preferred appropriation--Veterinary School, Medical
School, Cardiovascular Studies, Dental Clinics and University
Museum--were cut by five percent. These cuts were consistent
with the proposed five percent reduction recommended for all
other institutions of higher education.
to the non-preferred appropriation cuts, the Governor proposed
substantial cuts to various Medical Assistance programs that
provide funding to Penn Medicine to support patient care to
the poor. The cuts include complete elimination of the Community
Access Fund (providing additional funding for institutions
with high levels of Medical Assistance payments), MA medical
education, and outpatient disproportionate share payments.
Penn Medicine's three urban hospitals (HUP, Presbyterian and
Pennsylvania) would suffer a $14 million annual funding cut
from elimination of these programs.
At the time,
the Governor asked that the General Assembly postpone any action
on the budget until the release of the second part of his budget,
which include revenue enhancements designed to support new
initiatives in basic education, tax reform and economic development.
The Legislature, however, chose to approve the “bare-bones” budget
(HB 648) in mid-March. The Governor signed HB 648 but
line-item vetoed the entire basic education budget, thus forcing
the legislative leadership back to the bargaining table for
further budget negotiations.
Since the introduction
of the Governor's budget in early March, the University has
been actively engaged in activities designed to restore the
funding cuts to Penn, including direct meetings with legislative
leadership and the Administration by President Rodin and other
senior University and Penn Medicine officials; written communication
to all members of the General Assembly and the Governor; grassroot
efforts by faculty, staff and students; and coalition
activity with other universities and health care providers.
Assembly has not taken final action on the approval of Penn's
appropriation. All of the non-preferred appropriation bills,
including Penn's, were approved by the House in July at the
Governor's recommended level. However, these bills are currently
being held up in the Senate where Democrats have refused to
put up the necessary votes (under law these bills require 2/3
vote of each chamber) until the entire budget is resolved.
On October 21,
the House approved a package of bills that hopefully will move
the General Assembly closer to a final resolution of the Commonwealth
budget impasse. The House approved the following key pieces
of legislation: (1) an increase in the state's personal income
tax; (2) a basic education funding bill, including funding
for new programs; and (3) a bill restoring approximately $500
million in programs cut in the prior budget. Included in the
restoration bill is a 100% restoration of the Medical Assistance
cuts to the hospitals.
Senate caucuses have indicated that they are not in support
package as approved by the House. Nevertheless, most observers
believe the House action substantially moves the process forward
and can serve as a framework for serious negotiations to resolve
the budget. At this date, Pennsylvania is the only state in
the country without a final budget in place. With the November
elections over, the General Assembly returned to session on
November 17. It is hoped that a resolution will be completed
before the end of the calendar year.
Commonwealth Capital Budget Authorizations
Last fall the
General Assembly gave final approval to the Commonwealth's
Capital Budget Project Itemization Act, Senate Bill 1213. This
legislation includes authorizations for the following Penn
Life Sciences Building . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $16,000,000
Professional Development Center for
Teachers and Educators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
. . . .2,000,000
addition to these projects, the University has been successful
a $30 million authorization for a cancer care/ambulatory care
facility (on the site of the Civic Center) to the latest version
of the FY 2003-04 Capital Budget bill (HB 1634). This bill
has been approved by the House and approval is expected by
the Senate before they break at the end of the calendar year.
Pennsylvania law, the power to fund projects that have been
the Capital Budget rests solely with the Governor. Towards
that end, we are working closely with the Governor and his
senior staff to provide briefings and detailed information
on each of these projects.
and Community Relations
Philadelphia Municipal Elections
November 4, voters elected officials to serve in the following
Mayor, City Council, City Commissioners, Clerk of Quarter Sessions,
Register of Wills, Sheriff, and Trial Judges in the Court of
Common Pleas, Municipal Court, and Traffic Court. OCCR worked
closely with City organizations to recruit student volunteers
to assist with voter registration and election activities.
F. Street was reelected to a second term as Mayor of Philadelphia
defeating Sam Katz by a margin of 58% to 42%, approximately
75,000 votes. The Mayor performed better in almost every ward
than he did in 1999, when he defeated Katz by a 2% margin.
the sitting Mayor re-elected, Penn will build on existing
with those members of the Administration who remain in office.
In keeping with its civic engagement mission, the University
will continue to offer the expertise of faculty and staff to
assist the Administration on tackling policy issues confronting
Jannie Blackwell was reelected to her 4th term as the 3rd Councilmanic
District representative. The Councilwoman, who presently is
the Majority leader and Chair of Finance, was uncontested in
her bid for re-election. Other City Council results included
the reelection of all sitting Council persons in each of their
districts. At-large democratic candidates re-elected include
Councilman James Kenney (who led the at-large candidates with
the most votes), Councilman David Cohen; Councilman W. Wilson
Goode, and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. Councilman
Frank Rizzo was re-elected to one of two Republican at-large
seats on Council. Newly elected at-large members of Council
include Democrat Juan Ramos and Republican Jack Kelly, who
replaces the other Republican seat formerly filled by the late
Thacher Longstreth. Political analysts indicate that both new
members are supporters of Mayor Street and thus will likely
strengthen Mayor Street's relationship with City Council. It
could also influence the election of the Council President
post for the upcoming session. The new City Council will be
sworn in, and the leadership positions on Council will be elected
on January 5, 2004.
R. Scheman, Vice President for
and Public Affairs