A Western Illinois University administrator said the school has enough money to make it through the Spring semester. But he's not saying much about the contingency plan WIU is developing in case the ongoing shortfall of state funding continues.
“We’re evaluating those (plans) right now,” said Matt Bierman, Interim Vice President for Administrative Services. “We’re not ready to release any information but it’s the typical type of activities that we’ve considered in the past and some new things we’ll have to try.”
The state has gone 21 months without a budget. Public colleges and universities received some state funding through a stop-gap spending plan approved in late June of last year but they have not received any state money this calendar year.
In April 2016 Western’s Board of Trustees authorized the administration to use auxiliary facilities systems funds if needed. That money comes from the sale of tax exempt bonds and is normally used to pay for expenses related to university housing and dining, campus recreation, and the University Union. The use of those auxiliary funds to pay for operating expenses is seen as a measure of last resort.
Western has not dipped into those funds so far but Bierman said that option remains on the table.
President Thanks Employees
WIU President Jack Thomas told the BoT that Western has faced a tremendous amount of pressure the past couple years as it’s balanced its focus on the future with the budgetary challenges of the present.
He said administrators have lost pay due to furloughs and said other employees have also made sacrifices. He thanked faculty, staff, students, and administrators for working hard despite the difficult times.
“We have made many reductions that have impacted this University and people’s lives. I apologize for the difficult decisions that we have made and continue to make,” Thomas said.
“I assure you that we agonize over the budgetary issues forced upon on us because of the stalemate in Springfield.”
Thomas urged people to make their voices heard in Springfield.