The state’s largest university system says they need state funding to deliver the quality of education taxpayers and students come to expect.
Tom Hardy, executive director of university relations with the University of Illinois, says all of the U of I campuses — in Champaign, Chicago and Springfield — are drawing down on cash reserves in the absence of any statewide appropriations and that will run out at some point.
“Obviously over time this has put pressure on tuition, other areas where the university can find resources because we need to be adequately resourced to maintain the exceptional level of education across our three campuses that Illinois taxpayers, students and their parents have come to expect.”
Hardy says U of I’s direct appropriation from the state in the previous fiscal year was $664 million which has been relatively flat since the early 2000s and some steps that have been taking to shore up finances in the absence of state funding include a hiring freeze of administrative staff, but no layoffs.
The university is also operating with a 20 percent reduced budget. Hardy says there’s high level of confidence legislative leaders and the governor will come up with a deal in the new year but didn’t want to speculate the possibility lawmakers can’t come to terms on a new budget before the current fiscal year ends in July of next year.
Rep. Flowers: Opportune time for universities to find savings
Governors State University is looking at every opportunity to find savings in the absence of money from the state but one state Representative thinks the impasse is a prime opportunity for universities to do more to save money. Brian Mitchell, chair of the Board of Trustees at Governors State University, says the lack of funding from the state goes beyond decisions of not ordering learning supplies.
“We’ve looked at travel, you look at any of the–not necessarily extra things–but you have to look at everything. You have to look at all cost cutting measures you can do across the board. So there has been nothing we’ve taken off the table.”
Mitchell also says the university president is looking at critical issues like operations and staffing. However Democratic State Representative Mary Flowers, who serves on the House Higher Education Committee, says universities can do more to find efficiencies.
“But the universities have an opportunity now to be innovative, to do their fair share, until such time that money is available. The students should not be punished for our deeds of not having a budget passed yet.”
Flowers says every level of state government, from prisons to universities, has to tighten their belts because the state doesn’t have enough resources to go around.
The state is now six-and-a-half months into the current fiscal year with no appropriations for state universities.
Illinois News Network