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State House Democrats, Pitt students push lawmakers to pass tuition discount spending bill

State House Democrats, Pitt students push for action in Harrisburg on tuition discount spending bill
State House Democrats, Pitt students push for action in Harrisburg on tuition discount spending bill 02:44

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pennsylvania House Democrats and Pitt students called for something to be done with funding state universities on Thursday. 

About $600 million is currently waiting for approval by the House and Senate to help with student tuition discounts.  

The House Democrats said if something isn't done to help students at schools like Pitt, they could be lost to other schools out of state. They feel the students are being used as pawns in this debate.  

In the shadow of the Cathedral of Learning, the future of tens of thousands of students lay in question.  

State leaders said millions of dollars to help keep tuition down for these students will not be there if something isn't done in Harrisburg.  

"This is a disgrace to the entire legislative process and shame on my colleagues for their utter failure to do the jobs they were elected to do," 20th District Rep. Emily Kinkead said.  

Allegheny County House and Senate Democrats called on the House Republican Caucus to work on finding a way to pass the spending bill for tuition discounts at Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln. To pass the spending bill, there needs to be a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.  

"I think it's ridiculous. So many students here shouldn't have to worry about what's going on in the legislature and budget process just to afford their education," Pitt sophomore Sam Podnar said.  

Senate leaders feel this will pass the Senate but they are waiting on the House to make its move. Currently, they are six votes short of getting this across the finish line.  

"If we had been able to pass this spending package when we passed the budget, we could have assisted tens of thousands of students in Pennsylvania," Rep. Kinkead said.  

According to the Democratic Caucus, if there is no passage of the spending bill, tuition could go up by $16,000 for students at Pitt. Over the course of a four-year education, that's $64,000.  

"If you want a next generation of leaders, a next generation of doctors, a next generation of teachers, you need to fund our education," Pitt sophomore Olivia Pinocci-Wrightsman said.  

KDKA-TV reached out to the state House Republicans for comment but didn't hear back by the time the story aired. 

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