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.

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.

TSPR

Moody's Investor Services downgraded Western Illinois University's bond rating to BAA3 last fall, and now Moody's has confirmed that rating after a recent review of the school's finances.

Rich Egger

Western Illinois University said its plan requiring non-negotiated administrative employees to take unpaid days off the will save $4 million.  The furlough days will begin next month and continue through June 30, which is the end of the fiscal year.

Rich Egger

The administration announced the cuts mid-afternoon Friday.  The cuts will take place over the next two fiscal years, beginning July 1, 2016.  In addition, the university will make additional cuts for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

Rich Egger

Representatives from across the higher education spectrum gathered at Western Illinois University in Macomb to urge the state to provide funding for colleges and universities. But just hours afterward, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a measure (SB 2043) that would have funded MAP grants and provided at least a bit of income for the schools.

Rich Egger

Roughly 200 people marched through the Western Illinois University campus Tuesday afternoon.  They wanted to make a public statement about their dissatisfaction with decision-makers in Springfield.

Rich Egger

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees voted 5-to-1 during a special meeting Monday to authorize staff reductions for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016.  Staff cuts are just one part of Western's plan for cutting spending by roughly $10 million due to declines in enrollment and state financial support.

Jonathan Ahl

The Western Illinois University administration has met with employee groups several times in the past week, trying to find a way to save money while also saving jobs.

Rich Egger

A coalition of education, labor, and non-profit organizations is urging the governor and legislative leaders to cut the cost of higher education for students by providing more funding for its colleges and universities.

Rich Egger

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees will wait until next month to vote on a massive budget cutting plan.  In a letter issued Tuesday to the campus community, WIU President Jack Thomas said he wants more time to come up with a proposal that threatens the livelihood of fewer people.

Rich Egger

The administration at Western Illinois University announced a plan last week to lay-off 50 teachers plus other staff members next school year.  The faculty union is now calling the plan a violation of its contract.

Rich Egger

The state of Illinois has cut funding to higher education each year for more than a decade.  Those cuts combined with declining enrollment will cause some people to lose their jobs at Western Illinois University.

Rich Egger

The University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) chapter at Western Illinois University is speaking out against a possible budget reduction proposal that recommends a "desired" student to faculty ratio of 17:1 for Western.

Rich Egger

The Western Illinois University chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois believes WIU's administration is overstepping its authority by directly surveying employees about potential cost-cutting options.

Rich Egger

Public universities in Illinois find themselves in an odd situation.  A new school year is underway but the state has no budget for higher education, which means there is no state money coming in to the public institutions.

Western Illinois University is reducing certain employees' 12-month contracts to 10 or 11-months, some temporary employees won't be returning this fall, and a few other staff members have been let go. The changes went into effect Wednesday, July 1.

TSPR's Emily Boyer

Western Illinois University is preparing to cut $4 million out of its budget for the fiscal year that begins Wednesday, July 1, despite continued uncertainty in Springfield.

Budget Director Matt Bierman said the university plans save money by reducing operational costs, realigning a department, and through attrition.

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