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Government Affairs Update
March 4, 2008, Volume 54, No. 24

Governor’s Proposed FY 2008-09 Budget  

On February 5, Governor Edward G. Rendell released his proposed FY 2008-09 budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Governor is proposing a total of $50,325,000 in the University’s appropriation, an increase of 1.3%. The Governor is proposing an increase of 0.5% for the two Veterinary School line items—$39,647,000 for Veterinary Activities and $3,232,000 for the Center for Infectious Disease. This proposed increase is identical to last year’s final increase for the School. For the Penn Museum, the Governor is proposing $254,000, the same level of funding as in the current fiscal year.

The Governor has also proposed a new funding mechanism associated with Penn’s other three health-related line items—the School of Medicine, Cardiovascular Studies and the Dental Clinics. Under the Governor’s proposal, half of the funding for these programs (beginning January 1, 2009) would be transferred to the Department of Public Welfare to allow the Commonwealth to access federal Medical Assistance matching funds for Penn’s physician practice plans. Assuming approval by the federal government, this transaction would result in an additional $405,000 in funding to Penn.

As part of the Governor’s economic stimulus package announced in conjunction with the budget, he is calling again for the General Assembly to approve the Jonas Salk Legacy Fund.  This proposal calls for the securitization of half of the Tobacco Settlement research funding (CURE), which would then be used to provide accelerated funding to support biosciences research infrastructure. Republican leadership in both the House and Senate has to-date opposed the approval of the Salk Fund. Penn currently receives between $9 million and $11 million annually in formula health research funds under the Tobacco Settlement.

The announcement of the Governor’s budget proposal begins the budget process, with budget hearings scheduled through early March. On February 26, the University testified before the House Appropriations Committee in support of its budget request to the Commonwealth. Following budget hearings, the Legislature and the Governor will begin the process of negotiating a final budget which should occur by July 1, 2008.

                                    —Paul S. Cribbins
                        Assistant Vice President for Commonwealth Relations

Related: Staff Changes at OGCA


Almanac - March 4, 2008, Volume 54, No. 24