Why Penn Vet Isn’t Happy With Gov. Wolf’s Proposed Budget

The governor's budget proposal would cut $30 million of funding from the veterinary program – which plays an important role in the state's agricultural industry.

Penn Vet

Photo | John Donges

Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his annual budget address yesterday – and the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary program isn’t too happy with it. 

The governor’s budget proposal puts $30 million of Penn Vet funding at risk. In addition to providing for vet training and the operation of animal hospitals, that money funds advanced research programs that help support the state’s agricultural industry – like, for example, the roughly 70,000 tests Penn Vet conducted in 2015 in effort to reduce the spread of the Avian Influenza outbreak.

In a statement issued yesterday, the university said that while it recognizes the “severity of the Commonwealth’s budget challenges,” it will work in the coming months 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 … The School is a major contributor to maintaining the viability, health and profitability of our state’s diverse and economically important livestock and poultry industries.”

According to Penn Vet, almost every county in Pennsylvania contains a practicing Penn-trained veterinarian – and 40 percent of Penn Vet students are Pennsylvania residents.

At the same time, Wolf’s proposed budget would offer the state’s university system – the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education – a $9 million increase in funding. While system spokesman Kenn Marshall told the Inquirer that the system is happy with the potential increase, it falls far short of the $61 million it requested.

State-funded higher education programs like Penn Vet and the 14 universities included in the state system are already considerably low on funding. For the first time in its 35-year history, system officials recently said they’ll explore the possibility of closing or merging some of PASSHE’s campuses.

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