* This story is setting off alarm bells across the state bureaucracy…
The state’s higher education czar issued a dire budget warning to the presidents of Illinois’ public universities Friday, telling them to be prepared for cuts in state funding of up to 30 percent over the next 18 months.
In an email to the presidents, Illinois Board of Higher Education Executive Director James Applegate said he was issuing the “bad budget news” after meeting with Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner’s budget transition team.
The newly elected Republican businessman takes over for Gov. Pat Quinn 12 days after the 2011 temporary tax increase rolls back from its current 5 percent to 3.75 percent, blasting an estimated $2 billion hole in the state’s current fiscal year budget and dropping revenues in the fiscal year 2016 budget beginning on July 1 by an estimated $4 billion.
“They have asked us to prepare a budget recommendation for FY 16 involving a 20 percent reduction. We may also be asked to create spending reserves of 5 percent or 10 percent out of our existing budget for the remainder of FY15,” Applegate noted in the email obtained by the Lee Enterprises Springfield bureau.
* From Mike Schrimpf on the transition team…
While Governor Quinn signed and is implementing the current, unbalanced budget, Governor-elect Rauner is taking seriously his duty to responsibly manage the broken budget he will inherit and is also beginning preparations for next fiscal year.
The budget that Governor-elect Rauner will ultimately present will not incorporate all of the suggestions he will receive from Agency CFO’s, which is why the transition team is asking for this information to begin developing a range of options, but it is already clear that major structural changes must occur to save Illinois. Our state’s fiscal house is in disrepair and years of patching over the problems have only made things worse. The time is coming for a new foundation.
If you parse that through, it seems apparent that the Rauner folks are just going through their due diligence, gathering info and doing some budgetary war games to see what would happen with various levels of revenue, etc.
In other words, they’re trying to find out exactly where universities (and agencies) are right now and what exactly will happen when the tax hike rolls back, both in this fiscal year and the next. They can then use those numbers to justify higher revenues and/or cuts to other areas. But what they’re finding out is university execs are a highly entitled bunch, especially since Rauner promised to increase their funding during the campaign.