After a week of limbo, the four state-related universities saw their state appropriation approved on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 1284 was adopted by a 145-55 vote despite Republican-led threats to stop appropriation for the University of Pittsburgh due to its fetal tissue research.
House GOP leaders moved funding for the institutions into a different bill – SB 1284 – while adding a prohibition on fetal tissue research to a separate bill focused on expanding broadband access – SB 442. That bill, sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), passed 109-91 but is expected to languish in the state Senate.
By separating the issues, Republicans were able to secure the two-thirds majority needed to advance funding for the institutions, while also allowing its caucus to continue the fight against fetal tissue research. Pitt ranks 11th among national research universities in funding from the National Institutes of Health.
“The University of Pittsburgh devotes every dollar of the general support appropriation it receives from the state to help support a tuition discount for Pennsylvania students and families,” a university statement reads. “We’re optimistic the legislature will preserve this investment in our students.”
Efforts to withhold Pitt’s funding were partially led by Rep. Eric Nelson (R-Westmoreland), who wants to gradually create a Pennsylvania College Voucher Program. His plan would redirect more than $580 million in taxpayer dollars to expand the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). “Rather than using that $580 million to help only those students who choose to attend Pitt, Penn State or Temple, we should make it available to assist ALL students who choose to pursue a higher education.”
The state appropriations are utilized by the institutions for financial aid support for students.
2022-23 Appropriations for General Support
- Pennsylvania State University: $242,096,000
- Pennsylvania College of Technology: $26,736,000
- University of Pittsburgh: $151,507,000; $3,346,000 for rural education outreach
- Temple University: $158,206,000
- Lincoln University: $15,166,000