Intercom Online......September 16, 1999

Appropriation request includes
state support for Making Life Better

MLB-2LnRPenn State is seeking special state funding for the University's Making Life Better initiative as part of its 2000-2001 appropriations request to the Commonwealth.

"This initiative builds on Penn State's capacity in three areas of critical importance to the quality of life for Pennsylvania's future -- workforce and economic development, cultural development and agricultural research and cooperative extension," said President Graham B. Spanier in a presentation to the Board of Trustees on Sept. 10.

He outlined next year's appropriation request of $343,546,000, an increase of $24,912,000 over last year, which includes $12.5 million for the Making Life Better initiative and $12.4 million (a 4 percent increase) for basic operating costs. The board approved the request this afternoon. It is the University's practice to submit its budget plan and appropriations request to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in late September and to present the request to the board for review and approval before sending it to the state.

The University is requesting a total of $8 million for the workforce and economic development component of the $12.5 million Making Life Better initiative in the following areas:

n $2 million dollars of the budgeted increase will support interdisciplinary areas that address important societal needs: life sciences, materials science, environmental studies and children, youth and families.

n $2 million will help expand workforce development programs in most demand at Penn College and make it possible to extend programs to other locations throughout the state. The funds also will make it possible for Penn College to reach new clients in business and industry, keep equipment and facilities up-to-date and help reduce future tuition increases.

n $4 million will support additional faculty positions in key interdisciplinary fields that contribute to workforce development and the vitality of the Pennsylvania economy. It also will support new associate degree and certificate programs at campuses that develop technical and management skills; more internship, practicum and service learning opportunities that give students work experience; and new partnerships with other higher education institutions, industry associations and corporations to enhance program delivery and help expand technology transfer activities.

Cultural development is a new area of the Making Life Better initiative and $2 million is requested for these activities in the arts and humanities. These funds would support faculty positions, expand outreach and support programming.

The third component of the Making Life Better initiative is agricultural research and cooperative extension. This is the second year of a two-year plan to restore agricultural line items to prior funding levels. Priorities for the $2.5-million increase for 2000-2001 include integrated animal management; integrated crop management; forest resources management and use; food safety and nutrition; water quality; children, youth and families; and rural economic and community development.

Focusing on other items in the 2000-2001 state appropriation request, Spanier said, "We will continue our program of internal budget reductions that is part of Penn State's strategic planning process. Over the last eight years, a total of $78 million -- 12 percent of departmental budgets -- has been reallocated internally. For 2000-2001, the ninth year of this program, we project that internal budget reductions will generate $3.5 million at University Park, or 1 percent of departmental operating budgets, for reallocation," he said. Similar internal budget reductions are included in the strategic plans of other campus locations.

Next year's budget includes an overall increase of 3.6 percent for salaries, or $23.7 million, In recent years, salaries have slipped in comparison to peer institutions. "At best," he said, "the increase will help keep us from falling further behind."

Employee benefits are marked for an increase of approximately $6 million, most of which will go to a projected 8 percent increase in the cost of health care. The benefits increase will also help offset an increase in the Social Security base and continued growth in the number of employees who participate in the TIAA/CREFF retirement program.

Other budget highlights include:

n An increase of $1.9 million for libraries, student computing and telecommunications needs that will be provided by a $15 per semester increase in the student information technology fee.

n An increase of $4.3 million for facilities, including just more than $1 million for maintenance and operation of the new or newly renovated facilities; $1 million to address some of the $190 million in deferred maintenance projects; and $2.3 million for the second year of a five-year capital improvement program.

n $3.2 million for the President's Excellence Fund, which provides additional support for the highest priority needs in each unit; and an increase of $170,000 for student activities to be funded by a $1 increase in the student activities fee.

n A proposed basic tuition increase of 4.4 percent and an additional .55 percent which will support the capital improvement program. Planned increases in tuition and fees will generate $23.9 million in new income.

In addition, Penn State is asking the state to fold the $4 million in special appropriation line-items and $4.5 million it received this year in grant funds for the School of Information Sciences and Technology into the University's base appropriation.

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