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University Presidents: Illinois' Budget Gridlock has Schools on Brink of Serious Damage

Oct 4, 2015

Illinois' elementary and high schools are operating as normal; funding for education was the only spending spared from Governor Bruce Rauner's veto pen. But universities are another story. They haven't gotten a dollar from the state since July.

Collectively, Illinois' public universities educate some 200,000 students a year. Now, the campuses are "on the brink of serious operational damage."

So says a letter all nine state public university presidents sent to the governor and legislative leaders. The letter says requiring the schools to operate without state funding is "unsustainable."

"There's no question that the circumstance for everybody will be bleak if there's not a budget in the foreseeable future, and a promise of some reasonable and predictable level of state support for public universities," Tom Hardy, the spokesman for the University of Illinois, said.

In their letter, the university presidents ask the governor and top lawmakers for a meeting, and urge them to pass a budget.

The letter says government funding is a "fundamental tenet of the partnership between the state and public universities."

The problem isn't just that schools are starting a fourth month without money from the state; school can't plan or make spending decisions, because they don't know how much they'll get from the state once a budget is passed. Legislators' plan - the one Rauner vetoed - cut higher education by eight percent; the governor proposed a cut of more than 30 percent.

The letter was signed by the presidents of: Western Illinois University, the University of Illinois, Chicago State, Eastern Illinois, Governors State, Illinois State, Northeastern, Northern Illinois, and Southern Illinois universities.