By Rocco Pugliese, President
As many of us proceeded into the new year with our respective resolutions and in turn optimism, we would have hoped to have an initial spark of collaboration and potential compromise on the on-going budget resolution. It seems, however, that the spark may have quickly extinguished itself.
On Monday of this week, the House scheduled to move the State-Related Universities (non-preferred) appropriation bills; but with all of the House Democrats (except one) voting NO on Pitt’s appropriation, and a failure to reach the required two-thirds majority vote on the other appropriation bills, all the measures failed.
As a result, Pitt, PSU, Temple and Lincoln will be going into the 7th month of this fiscal year without state funding. This is not unusual from an historical perspective when there is a budget impasse. The non-preferred appropriations have been used, in the past, as bargaining chips in order to move folks into negotiations. At this point in the fiscal year, however, the House inaction obviously does not bode well for the four institutions of higher education; but speaks volumes to the impasse we have before us. Discussions amongst the four caucuses AND the Governor have not taken place so far this year; however, there was a constructive meeting after the votes on the non-preferreds and another meeting is scheduled for early next week.
The House did move the fiscal code this week, along party lines. That bill now will have to go to the Senate for concurrence on House amendments before it is sent to the Governor. The Senate comes back into session on January 18th.
So where do we go from here – frankly, I don’t know! This impasse is the most troubling one that I have witnessed; it just does not appear to have any end in sight. The only way this will get resolved is for either the Governor or the House Republicans to compromise on revenue while agreeing to move on state pensions as requested by the Senate Republicans. We all hope that the upcoming meetings will recreate the spark needed for a successful resolution to the budget impasse.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at Pugliese.
Note: For transparency purposes, Pugliese Associates represents the University of Pittsburgh.