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IBHE budget request snubs university presidents’ plea

Wednesday, Feb 7, 2018

* Tribune

Members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education narrowly voted Tuesday to send a $3.47 billion spending plan to the state legislature, a decision that followed weeks of debate questioning how the state’s public institutions can best move forward from two years of severe budget strain.

The endorsed budget was the more conservative of two options floated by trustees and was mostly unchanged from the plan originally presented in December. It seeks a $254.4 million increase over the current fiscal year, including a $100 million boost for Monetary Award Program grants for low-income students, around $31 million to cover inflation, $31 million for veterans grants and $20 million for emergency capital projects.

The contention centered upon the proposed share for Illinois’ 12 public universities, which collectively received about 41 percent of their typical state funding during the two-year budget impasse.

The board initially proposed a 2.2 percent increase, which if approved would send a little more than $1.1 billion to the public universities. University presidents, in an unusually public protest, signed a letter urging the board to present a more aggressive number. The school leaders wanted the budget to propose $1.2 billion, the same amount universities received in 2015, the last year of regular funding before the impasse struck.

* News-Gazette

But presidents of the state’s public universities had petitioned the board for another $100 million to restore their funding to 2014-15 levels, before the two-year state budget impasse. While recognizing the state’s financial plight, the presidents’ Dec. 11 letter said the recommendations would place more burdens on their schools after a funding cut this year and “two years of financial calamity” before that.

“The two-year budget impasse cost public universities tens of millions of operational dollars, and the lack of capital funding forced institutions to cancel or dramatically cut back on necessary construction and maintenance projects,” they wrote, adding that they have also cut expenses while controlling tuition and fees to respond to criticism about rising college costs. “The divestment in Illinois public higher education must stop now.”

Executive Director Al Bowman said the board understands the universities’ position, and their request is “certainly legitimate,” but the board believes that the recommendation “should reflect the state’s current financial situation. If we’re asking for an extra $254 million, we found it difficult to request an even larger amount, even though the universities need the money.” […]

UI spokesman Tom Hardy said Tuesday it was disappointing that the IBHE “did not concur with the public universities’ recommendation for a reasonable higher education appropriation to return us to the level of funding that preceded the devastating, two-year budget impasse. In the coming legislative session, we will continue to advocate for adequate, reliable funding of public higher education — a critical asset for the welfare and prosperity of Illinois and its people.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 11:20 am:

    ==The endorsed budget was the more conservative of two options floated by trustees and was mostly unchanged from the plan originally presented in December==

    The Illinois University systems are broken and there is a sense that our state universities do not represent a value to either the students, or Illinois citizens.

    The Rauner approach didn’t help improve this situation, and made it worse. Rauner’s term in office has decimated a decaying situation. Instead of intelligent bipartisan reform, we got worse than nothing that will cost us more.

    The universities weren’t victims in this until Rauner made them appear as victims. But budget reforms are needed and no one has a realistic clue.

    So it’s budget bandage time. A trickle of money. No - no one wants to see our universities go back to a bad situation, but until we get a new governor, that’s all that can be done.

  2. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 11:23 am:

    As a point of reference only, what are the taxpayer-paid contracted annual salaries of this “snubbed” group?

    Cry in your caviar, why don’t you?

  3. - DuPage - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 11:24 am:

    Rauner is not concerned about the damage he has inflicted upon the state universities and the community colleges. Even if they got full funding now, it will take many, many years to repair their reputation as a good choice for potential students to plan on attending.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 11:49 am:

    “The best way to fund universities is to keep this level of funding but close a university or two”.

    Rauner wants universities closed.

    The best way is to continue to keep funding away to make schools whole.

    Governors open universities, they don’t starve them into closing.

    This is a passive way to “fund” but keep the damage intact.

  5. - Because I said so.... - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    IBHE used to advocate for higher ed. Now they are just carrying out Rauners marching orders.

  6. - Snubs McCracken - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 12:09 pm:

    =Rauner’s term in office has decimated a decaying situation.=

    This appeared to be his across-the-board plan for the entire state.

  7. - Flapdoodle - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    ==As a point of reference only, what are the taxpayer-paid contracted annual salaries of this “snubbed” group? Cry in your caviar, why don’t you?==

    Not sure to whom you’re referring, VM. But usually it’s best not to paint with quite so broad a brush. Especially with regard to a system as complex as Illinois higher education. So just who are these caviar eaters? Let’s be specific in the diagnosis so we can be specific in the treatment.

  8. - Flapdoodle - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    Oh, one more thing — the taxpayers bear less and less of the burden as the state’s annual higher ed appropriation shrinks, and the students more and more of it. It’s about time to consider the implications of this arrangement for individuals and for the state’s future.

  9. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 1:50 pm:

    This recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed is informative:

    A few quotes:

    ==Lichtenberger’s paper found that the No. 1 reason students left the state was that they thought they’d pay more to stay in Illinois. To counteract the perception that Illinois’s in-state tuition is too costly, Lichtenberger’s paper recommended that policy makers increase the number of affordable in-state options.==

    Illinois is worried about outmigration of 40,000; our net outmigration of college freshmen is over 30,000. And, it has an impact. ==Of Illinois residents who study in their home state, more than nine out of 10 graduates start careers there. But of the Illinois residents who study out of state, Lichtenberger found, around one-third don’t come back to start a career. The study estimated that if those students had completed college in Illinois, they would have earned $10.1 million in wages three years out — a significant loss of tax revenue for a state in desperate need of it.==

    How appealing is this to Amazon & other tech firms? ==More worrisome for Illinois: Graduates with valuable STEM degrees were the least likely to return to Illinois for employment.==

    And finally: ==”Students are reading newspapers and watching news programs on television,” said Isaak. “They look at what is happening. And so I would advise certainty in budgets and certainty in financial-aid funding.”==

    The bottom line is this: Fixing Higher Ed via full funding would address a number of issues from outmigration, to income tax revenue, to attracting tech industries. And yet, Rauner’s appointees want to continue to neglect a proven economic driver. It makes no sense.

  10. - City Zen - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 2:25 pm:

    ==But of the Illinois residents who study out of state, Lichtenberger found, around one-third don’t come back to start a career.==

    In an age where freshmen attending out-of-state schools has doubled in the past 30 years, how does this compare to other states? Typically, high population states have always sent more kids out of state then they received: OR benefits from CA, OK benefits from TX, etc. Maybe only PA bucks that trend, and only because of neighboring NJ.

    ==More worrisome for Illinois: Graduates with valuable STEM degrees were the least likely to return to Illinois for employment.==

    Without any other context, all this tells me is STEM degrees offer more options for employment than other degrees. I’m guessing this stat would be true for most if not all states. If a STEM student leaves New Mexico for Texas A&M, what are the odds he returns to New Mexico looking for work?

  11. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Feb 7, 18 @ 5:36 pm:

    The context is that Illinois is #2 for net outmigration. Other states shed graduating seniors, but they balance the loss with in-migration of 18-year-olds from other states. Our net loss has been growing steadily since at least 2000. It accounts for 3/4 of our population loss. We have great universities, but the cost is too high and the uncertainty of support for programs is a killer. Would you pick a school where your major might disappear before you can graduate?

  12. - Tim Scherman - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    Vanilla man should know that tax payers only pay a fraction–from 10-30%–of what state universities pay in salaries or operations or anything, with most on the 10% end. Student tuition largely pays the rest. If you read up on the matter, you’ll discover our state universities are largely privatized already.

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