Lawmakers say Pitt, Penn State should get stimulus funds

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Fourteen members of Congress from Pennsylvania today urged the Obama administration to reject Gov. Ed Rendell's attempt to exclude the four state-related universities from receiving federal economic stimulus money.

The letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the state's application as submitted by the governor "is at odds with the letter and spirit" of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which indicates that money is to be provided to public institutions of higher education.

"An arbitrary re-definition of these universities as nonpublic, simply because the institutions are not 'under the absolute control of the commonwealth' sets a dangerous precedent," said the letter.

The letter stated approval would give other states the ability to pick and choose which public institutions may be supported by federal dollars.

"We strongly believe that by following the spirit and intent of the ARRA, the Department of Education will reject the application in current form and compel the commonwealth to use federal funds to maintain state support for every public institution of higher education in Pennsylvania, including the state-related universities," the letter states.

The four state-related universities are the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities. In a preliminary application, the four had been slated to receive almost $42 million combined in stimulus aid, but Mr. Rendell removed them from the formal application on June 26.

Of the 19 U.S. representatives from Pennsylvania, the 14 who signed the letter are Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair; Jason Altmire, D-McCandless; Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills; Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Erie; Bill Shuster, R-Blair; Glen Thompson, R-Centre County; Charles W. Dent, R-Allentown; Jim Gerlach, R-Chester Springs; Tim Holden, D-Schuylkill County; Todd Russell Platts, R-York; Joe Sestak, D-Delaware County; Christopher Carney, D-Susquehanna; Patrick J. Murphy, D-Bristol; and Robert A. Brady, D-Philadelphia.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bill Schackner can be reached at bschackner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1977.


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