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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Opinion | Believe victims even if you don鈥檛 like them
Opinion | Believe victims even if you don鈥檛 like them
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • July 12, 2024
Opinion | Women pop stars and the pressure to evolve
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • July 10, 2024

Pennsylvania House considers performance-based funding formula for state-related universities

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Kaylee Uribe | Staff Photographer
The Cathedral of Learning.

Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly are negotiating a bill that would change how Pitt and other state-related universities are funded.

We’ve talked about accessibility, we’ve talked about affordability and we鈥檝e talked about accountability. This is a piece that actually marries all three,鈥 Rep. Jesse Topper, the Republican chair of the House Education Committee, said in a .

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is considering a bill that would move the state closer to approving funding for the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Penn State. The , formally known as Senate Bill 1154, would create an independent council with the power to determine the amount of state funding allocated to each school.

鈥淚 believe it鈥檚 important that we move forward with our long-standing relationship with our three universities 鈥 [and] that we continue to work towards demonstrating the accountability for the tax dollars that are used to ensure that our students, particularly our middle-class students, have access to these institutions for their higher education if they so choose,鈥 Topper said.

The bill cites numerous metrics that the committee may use to allocate funding including graduation rates, percentage of students who received a Pell Grant and post-graduation employment rates and salaries.

鈥淭his would match increases in funding to state-related schools to actual data metrics [that] demonstrate the return on investment for students and for their families, and also for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,鈥 Topper said.

According to the bill, voting members of the council would include an appointee of the governor, appointees of the majority and minority leaders of the state Senate and appointees of the speaker of the House and the House minority leader. The presidents of the three universities would serve as non-voting members in an advisory role.

State funding is vital to Pitt’s yearly operation, according to University spokesperson Jared Stonesifer.

鈥淓very penny Pitt receives from the commonwealth in its general support appropriation is exclusively used to lower tuition for Pennsylvania students,鈥 Stonesifer said. 鈥淭his funding enables a significant in-state tuition discount, which saves students about $60,000 over the course of their undergraduate careers.鈥

Stonesifer said that the University supports a potential performance-based formula for state funding.

鈥淲e believe a predictable, transparent, outcomes-focused formula will benefit our students and allow Pitt to further address what鈥檚 most important to the commonwealth,鈥 Stonesifer said.

Henry Cohen, co-president of Pitt Democrats, argued against the Republican-sponsored performance-based formula bill.

鈥淚f you’re going to be distributing funding based on performance, that’s going to be leaving out all kinds of different groups,鈥 Cohen said. 鈥淚t’s going to incentivize universities that are already doing well, and it’s going to leave those that are doing less well behind.鈥

Joshua Minsky, president of College Republicans at Pitt, argued that performance-based funding would lead to less wasted money.

鈥淢eritocracy and merit-based systems are generally a good thing, and you shouldn’t be throwing around money that’s failing,鈥 Minsky said. 鈥淚f Pitt is graduating lots of people who are going on to the market being successful, then they should receive more money.鈥

The bill through the Republican-led state Senate along party lines on June 11. It is under consideration by the House Education Committee and will have to pass through the Democrat-led House before the Democratic governor, Josh Shapiro, gives his final approval.

Budget negotiations have been fraught in recent years, leading to delays in state funding for Pitt. The state approved funding for last year in November, months after the June 30 deadline. Rep. Topper compared the process to 鈥渢hrowing darts at the wall鈥, but expressed optimism that the proposed council is a simple decision.

鈥淚f we can ensure that the council is in place, and it is one that has input from all sides, and that we can come up with the best set of metrics moving forward to demonstrate the return on investment for Pennsylvania and for our R1 universities, that will help this relationship continue into the future,鈥 Topper said.