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Gov. Wolf's proposed budget eliminates funding for Penn's vet school

Gov. Wolf's proposed budget would eliminate all $30 million in funding for the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary school.

Penn in a statement indicated it was preparing for a fight.

"While we recognize the severity of the Commonwealth's budget challenges, in the coming months we will be actively working to expand awareness of the Vet School's historic partnership with the Commonwealth, which was designed to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Pennsylvania and its largest industry, agriculture," Penn said in a statement. "We look forward to illustrating the full value of Penn Vet to Gov. Wolf and the general assembly and mobilizing our supporters throughout the Commonwealth to join us in advocating for reinstatement of the appropriation."

The funding is used to support the school's animal hospitals, agricultural research and educating the next group of veterinarians.

Wolf's proposed budget also is hard on the rest of higher education.

The 14 state system universities are the only ones that would get an increase. The governor has proposed a nearly $9 million funding increase - $52 million less than the system requested.

If the governor's budget increase passes, it likely will mean budget cuts and tuition increases for the already strapped system, which is about to undergo a review that could lead to mergers or closure of some of the universities.

But Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the system, said system officials are nonetheless grateful for the proposed increase, especially considering other elements of the state system's higher education budget are being frozen or cut.

"Given the rest of the budget and the challenge that the Commonwealth is facing, we're certainly pleased that the governor is recommending an increase next year," Marshall said. "It's not as much as we requested but it certainly will be helpful to our universities and our students."

If approved, the state system's allotment would grow to $453.1 million. State system universities include: West Chester, Cheyney, Bloomsburg, Clarion, California, Edinboro, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, Kutztown, East Stroudsburg, Mansfield, Lock Haven and Indiana.

Meanwhile, Marshall said, the four state related universities, including Penn State, Temple, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln, would see their state funding frozen at the current level. Community colleges also would not get an increase.

In addition, the state would slash assistance grants that go to private colleges just about in half, from about $25 million to $13 million, Marshall said.