Public universities underfunded without budget

Oct 5, 2015

Though Illinois has gone over three months without a budget, state government is anything but shutdown. Court orders and existing law have made it possible for the largest chunks of the state's financial obligations to be paid, except for the state's 12 public colleges and universities.  

That includes the University of Illinois, where Governor Bruce Rauner made a stop on Friday to dedicate the opening of a veterans center on the school's Urbana campus.  Just the day before, Rauner had received a letter from the presidents of most of the state's public universities, requesting state support and warning of possible consequences of underfunded schools.

Rauner says he's told university presidents, including U of I's leader Tim Killeen, that his hands are tied by the Democratically controlled legislature, whose budget the governor almost completely vetoed this summer.

"I have made it clear to the president that I am very unhappy that we do not have yet a budget. It's outrageous, there's no reason for this to be dragged on so long... and I'm working with the president to help him get efficiencies and economies inside the administration so we can save money wherever possible."

The governor also says he wants to increase state support for universities, despite his spending plan cutting nearly a third of higher education dollars from the state's budget.

Legislators will meet today for a hearing on higher education spending on the Eastern Illinois University campus. EIU has already had to cut dozens of staff positions from its payroll due to budgetary constraints.