When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s executive budget was released Feb. 7 for fiscal year 2017-2018, the horse world was shocked by an omission. The proposed budget doesn’t allot any funding for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, which includes the renowned New Bolton Center Hospital for Large Animals in Kennett Square.
In FY 2016, the veterinary school received approximately $30 million in funding, which amounted to 23 percent of its operating budget, and it received about $29.5 million in 2015. It’s now slated to receive $0 for “veterinary activities,” though the university is allotted $281,000 for its Center For Infectious Disease, the same amount as last year.
“In this year’s budget, I am proposing significant changes to the way Harrisburg has done business,” stated the introduction to Wolf’s budget. “The proposed budget includes over $2 billion in cuts and savings and avoids any new taxes on Pennsylvania families while maintaining the investments we have made in our schools, protecting seniors, fighting the opioid epidemic and supporting Pennsylvania’s middle class.”
But the veterinary school countered that the services it provides to the community are worthwhile. The university also operates the Ryan Veterinary Hospital for Companion Animals in Philadelphia.
“This is an opportunity 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,” stated a release from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “Funding from the Commonwealth ensures the vet school’s ability to deliver life-saving services at its two animal hospitals, advance research programs that support the agricultural industry, and maintain our commitment to developing and growing the veterinary profession.
“The vet school is essential to the success of the statewide agriculture community,” it continued. “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. During the 2015 budget impasse, which occurred during the most recent national Avian Influenza outbreak, Penn Vet played a critical role, conducting over 70,000 tests to check the costly spread of disease.”
The veterinary school also receives funding from research grants, tuition, donations and clinical services provided at its hospitals, including New Bolton Center. University of Pennsylvania representatives are hopeful the final budget will restore state funding to the school. As the next step of the budgeting process, the governor’s executive budget will reviewed by the Pennsylvania legislature.
“We understand this is the beginning of important budget discussions and look forward to illustrating the full value of Penn Vet to Governor Wolf and the General Assembly,” stated the release from the veterinary school.