Letter to the Editor

By J.J. Abbott

To the Editor:

As both a proud Pitt alumnus and someone who has long followed our state funding, I was disappointed by The Pitt News editorial regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to let the budget and Pitt’s appropriation become law.

The editorial completely ignores the fight Pitt advocates have been waging over the last decade to maintain the state support Pitt deserves as one of the commonwealth’s top academic and research institutions.

Just five years ago, Pitt advocates weren’t asking legislators to be #WithPitt but begging the General Assembly to #KeepPittPublic.

Here’s why: In 2011, Gov. Tom Corbett also faced a deficit and, to close the gap, proposed cutting Pitt’s state funding in half. Yes, you read that right — a 50 percent reduction. After months of work by students and advocates, the legislature relented a bit but still cut Pitt’s funding by about 21 percent — $40,000,000 — instead of finding new revenue.

For the first time, this year was different. Gov. Wolf proposed fully restoring cuts to Pitt over two years. Republicans rejected this, but ultimately did give Pitt a small increase.

Gov. Wolf has showed time and again his commitment to Pitt and Pennsylvania’s other world-class higher education institutions. Indeed, the first University leader who met with Gov. Wolf in 2015 after his inauguration was Chancellor Patrick Gallagher.

Don’t fall into the trap of seeking to avoid difficult choices as Harrisburg has done for decades. Pitt students should stand with Gov. Wolf and call for the legislature to fix the deficit and invest more in higher education.

Because, if any Pitt supporter thinks that the legislature won’t consider cutting Pitt again in order to avoid the task of finding sustainable revenue to close Pennsylvania’s $2 billion deficit — think again. History, unfortunately, tends to repeat itself.

J.J. Abbott

Deputy Press Secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf

Pitt Class of 2009

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