WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Crisis of Confidence: WIU and Illinois Budget Stalemate

Public higher education institutions in Illinois have seen state funding decrease for more than a decade. The year-long budget impasse in the 2016 fiscal year left public colleges and universities without any state support for much of the school year.

At Western Illinois University, that drastic cut in state financial support resulted in significant budget cuts,  employee furloughs, and layoffs.

Tri States Public Radio is reporting on how the state budget impasse, and the progressive de-funding of higher education in Illinois, is impacting one of the listening area's largest employers, Western Illinois University.

College professors across Illinois will step away from their classrooms to rally in Springfield on Thursday, April 27. The event called Teach Out for Illinois Higher Education is in response to the state budget stalemate.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University is continuing to urge state lawmakers to approve a new state budget that adequately funds higher education.

TSPR

There are 9,469 students enrolled at Western Illinois University this spring semester. It's the first time this century Western's student body has dropped below 10,000.

Rich Egger

The state of Illinois has gone 18 months without a budget.  And the stop gap spending plan is about to expire with no new deal in sight.

Rich Egger

The Illinois Board of Higher Education agreed to provide additional financial support to three public universities.  The $20 million comes from the state's stop-gap funding measure.

Rich Egger

Time is winding down on Illinois' stop-gap spending measure, which expires in early January. But many state lawmakers are in campaign mode so nothing is being done to complete a full budget for Illinois.

The 93rd Illinois House District includes one public university and two community colleges.  Incumbent Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) believes she's served higher education well and she's running for a fourth term. Her Democratic opponent John Curtis believes the state should be doing a better job of supporting higher education and thinks he can help reverse course on the trend of declining state aid.

TSPR

Western Illinois University's fall student enrollment is down 6.5% compared to last year. Western welcomed more than 10,373 students to campus this fall. That’s 721 students fewer than last year.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas said the state's stop-gap spending measure helped the university for the fall semester, but he cautioned it's not designed to get any of the state's public universities through the entire fiscal year. 

Tri States Public Radio

Illinois' ongoing budget impasse and recent funding cuts to Western Illinois University haven't hurt the enthusiasm of some new students as they begin their college education.

TSPR's Emily Boyer

As state financial support continues to decline for Illinois' public colleges and universities, Western Illinois University wants to bulk up another revenue stream.  But Illinois' budget uncertainty is making it difficult. 

Rich Egger

John Miller, President of the University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100, said the six month spending plan passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor was poorly done and is not even a true budget. And he said it amounts to another cut for higher education.

TSPR

Western Illinois University sent lay off notices to more than 100 employees in April as part of a cost cutting measure to cope with a drastic decrease in state aid.  More than half of them will be asked to come back to work for the fall semester.          

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University will receive $31.4 million from the state's stop-gap funding measure, plus about $5.1 million to reimburse the university for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) funding it loaned to students for the spring semester.  But that still falls far short of what the university might normally expect from the state.

TSPR

Some Western Illinois University employees were required to take unpaid days off in Fiscal Year 2016, and they will have to take more in the new fiscal year as the school tries to cope with a drastic decrease in state aid.

Rich Egger

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees endorsed the efforts of school President Jack Thomas by unanimously agreeing to extend his contract. Dr. Thomas will remain president at least through the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins July 1.  

TSPR

Just a few weeks remain in the fiscal year and Western Illinois University is preparing to wrap up the books without much financial support from the state.

The university received only about 30% of its regular state appropriations. When that round of funding was announced in April, there was hope more money would soon follow.  But, Illinois lawmakers wrapped up the spring legislative session without passing a state spending plan for this year or next.

TSPR

Western Illinois University’s administration wants to eliminate four academic majors due to declining student enrollment. Those majors are African American Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies and Women’s Studies.

Rich Egger

Even though the school year is over at Western Illinois University, the Macomb community is still rallying for higher education funding.  About 50 people -- including Western faculty, staff and a few students -- gathered alongside members of the community for a demonstration that started in Chandler Park.

Rich Egger

Jerry Tyson has been cutting hair since 1955. And his single-chair barbershop – aptly named The Barbershop – has been providing  haircuts and shaves near downtown Macomb since the early 1980s.

Emily Boyer

Members of the University Professionals of Illinois chapter at Western Illinois University voted overwhelmingly to defer 3% of their compensation for the next two years. They also agreed to pass up a negotiated 1% salary increase.

Rich Egger

147 employees are losing their jobs as WIU grapples with a drastic decrease in state support for the current fiscal year and uncertain funding for the coming year.

Brian Mackey

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2059 Monday morning. The bill provides a short-term appropriation to the state’s colleges and universities.

Rich Egger

Illinois lawmakers have passed bipartisan legislation to allocate $600-million to higher education. Governor Bruce Rauner is expected to sign the measure.

Under the deal, Western Illinois University would receive about $15-million worth of state appropriations and another $5-million in reimbursements for covering MAP grant funding for low-income students this school year.

Students Lead Rally at WIU

Apr 19, 2016
Rich Egger

About three dozen Western Illinois University students and staff members marched across campus Tuesday to advocate for state funding of higher education.  The demonstration was put on by students and was done in support of faculty and staff who face furloughs and layoffs.

Rich Egger

The University Professionals of Illinois, which represents many faculty and some other workers at Western Illinois University, announced a deferred compensation agreement with the administration that will help the university save money the next two fiscal years.

Rich Egger

In a letter to the campus community, WIU President Jack Thomas said around 110 university workers will receive layoff notices within the next week.

Solidarity March and Rally in Macomb

Mar 31, 2016
Rich Egger

Around 150 people took to the streets late Thursday afternoon to demonstrate their support for Western Illinois University and the city of Macomb.

Rich Egger

State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) said securing funding for higher educations is her biggest legislative priority right now. She applauds the state’s community colleges and four-year universities for standing behind MAP grants for students this year, and added that she doesn’t want the schools to struggle to get through the summer and fall.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University Budget Director Matt Bierman said the school will achieve savings beginning next fiscal year thanks to the early retirement incentive package offered late last fall.

Pages