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*** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker non-committal on emergency funding for WIU

Thursday, Mar 14, 2019

* Gov. Pritzker was in Quincy today and was asked about whether he supports giving Western Illinois University some emergency state funding, above and beyond what’s in the current budget and what he’s asked to be appropriated next fiscal year. As you know, WIU announced 132 layoffs earlier this month

We need to look at the availability of funds. As you know I’ve been crusading, in a way, to make sure that we are bringing the right amount of revenue to the state and that we’re finding proper cuts in state government so that we can meet our obligations. We now have a $3.2 billion budget deficit that we’re facing for the coming year. And I’m trying to not only get past that $3.2 billion, but also put us on firm fiscal footing forever and that’s why I put forward a plan for a fair tax for the state to make sure that the wealthiest pay more and 97 percent of the people will pay less.

He’s got his rap down for sure. But, um, what cuts is he talking about? He hasn’t really announced any.

The governor said he’s spoken with Western’s president since the layoffs were announced. He said no decisions were made during the meeting, but that he now has a better understanding of what’s going on there.

He also said he is “very close” to naming new trustees for the university. A majority of the board is vacant.

*** UPDATE *** Yeah, it’s not looking good for WIU…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    I’m sympathetic, but what about the emergency funding for EIU and SIUC? What are the criteria for deciding who gets emergency funding and how much? Emergency funding doesn’t boost enrollment to justify rehiring all the laid off staff.

  2. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 3:44 pm:

    First instinct was to say no, but I seem to remember the state bailed out Chicago State U a number of years ago when they almost got mismanaged into oblivion. It wouldn’t be right to do that and ignore WIU now. But if I’m JB I’d still want Hammond and Tracy’s votes on the progressive tax in exchange.

  3. - scamp640 - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    @ Lester Holt’s Mustache. I like your thinking. Norine Hammond and Jil Tracy watched silently for more than two years while WIU twisted in the wind. Jil Tracy never voted to support WIU. I support the idea that JB asks for a quid pro quo here. WIU only gets support if Norine and Jil atone for their past neglect of WIU.

  4. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    What happened to no cuts in spending JB ? Calls into question his insistence that the progressive tax is the only way out. Total unforced error on the part of the Gov- forgot his messaging.

  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    ===WIU only gets support if Norine and Jil atone===

    That’s how Rauner would do it. He’s gone. Move ahead.

  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 4:06 pm:

    Donnie - that’s laughable. Finding a few minor cuts here and there doesn’t fix any of our structural problems. It wins him political points, nothing more. The tax increase is the answer.

  7. - illini - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 4:10 pm:

    What is troubling is that a “majority of the
    Board is vacant”.

    New members of the Board will not be totally familiar with with any “history”.

    We have to save these Regionals, not only for the sake of the local economy, but for the betterment of our State.

  8. - Flapdoodle - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 4:34 pm:

    @illini =What is troubling is that a “majority of the Board is vacant”.=

    Very good point. Even more troubling is the Board’s previous lack of oversight of and in fact complicity in the inept management of WIU by the current Administration. The immediate past Board president resigned after OMA violations intended to conceal the Board’s agreement to support the Administration in several actions that violated union contracts. Another Board member stated explicitly that the Board was following what it thought were then Governor Rauner’s wishes. The WIU President told the Board that decisions about program and staff reductions had already been made, even though the contractually required review processes had not been fully completed. For WIU to have any chance at recovering, Governor Pritzker must appoint new Board members who are independent and willing to make hard choices.

  9. - Ginhouse Tommy - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 4:42 pm:

    Sounds like WIU and SIUC have the same problem, an inept Board of Directors.

  10. - illini - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 4:50 pm:

    I hate this. All of our Universities have been underfunded for years, but many their Boards of Trustees are dysfunctional and totally ineffective in performing their prime duty - advocating for their University.

    And thank you @Flapdoodle.

    This is inexcusable.

  11. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 4:51 pm:

    ===not only for the sake of the local economy, but for the betterment of our State.===

    If you use any consideration other than what is best for current and future students of WIU, you’re compounding the problem. If you approach this mess with the best interests of students as your guiding principle, you’ll have a fighting chance to get through this crisis.

  12. - West Wing - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 4:55 pm:

    Since WIU is an essential engine of economic activity for the region, I hope the Governor and staff focus like a laser beam on helping to put the university on a smarter path forward. WIU is essential for the entire region and, regardless of who’s to blame, needs help.

  13. - City Zen - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 5:24 pm:

    ==Since WIU is an essential engine of economic activity for the region==

    At what point does the V-8 spawn a super-charged V-6?

  14. - Jibba - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 5:29 pm:

    When you are operating at half capacity, you can only pay for half the professors. Not rocket science and not an emergency.

    JB should provide steady and slightly increased funding for his term, but require a 4 year plan to raise enrollment using new thinking about delivering education, not just relying on more funding and better marketing. You need a better product that more people can afford.

  15. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 5:30 pm:

    For the record, I’m not advocating for some kind of meaningless words of atonement here. Frankly I doubt that Hammond and Tracy regret supporting Rauner’s hostage taking even today, and wouldn’t really believe them if they offered. I’m just talking about good old-fashioned horse trading for votes. Goo-goos ruined politics - the whole system, at both the state and federal level, has devolved ever since they did away with pork barrel projects.

  16. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 6:07 pm:

    Although WIU could benefit from some additional funding, what it needs most at this critical point in its history is credible,competent and creative leadership. I hope this fact will be apparent to the revamped WIU Board of Trustees that the WIU community–students, faculty, staff–so anxiously awaits.

  17. - Leatherneck Grad - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 6:22 pm:

    It’s unfortunate the current President and the Board of Directors have taken WIU down the path of self-destruction. It was hard enough to survive with Rauner starving public education for 4 years. WIU needs to do these things and quickly.
    Get a competent board
    Replace the current President
    Close the WIU QC Campus.

    I was a student leader at WIU in the mid 90’s when the QC campus was opened. I was against it then and I’m still against it now. WIU touted it as the only public university in the QCA. True fact. I grew up in the QCA. However, there is a community college on the IL side and a community college on the IA side. Augustana College is in Rock Island. St. Ambrose University is on the IA side.

    In the fall of 2018, WIU QCA barely had 500 undergraduates enrolled. That’s compared to Auggie’s 2,650 and St. Ambrose 2.370. WIU QCA always has been and will continue to be a waste of resources.

  18. - Not a Billionaire - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 6:37 pm:

    And the University of Iowa a half hour west…..I would like to cut a deal with them before UIUC and maybe merge our nursing program with them and let them expand their medical presence in the Quad Cities.

  19. - Captain Obvious - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 6:51 pm:

    Cuts? Did he say that with a straight face? Cause that is comedy gold right there…

  20. - QC Resident - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 7:50 pm:

    “In the fall of 2018, WIU QCA barely had 500 undergraduates enrolled. That’s compared to Auggie’s 2,650 and St. Ambrose 2.370. WIU QCA always has been and will continue to be a waste of resources.”

    Definitely climbing an uphill battle, especially with very lenient enrollment standards by private institutions anymore and ample financial aid to help with steep tuition prices. The biggest attraction to WIU would be that it is more cost effective education, but anymore just get a student loan that covers the cost and more, worry about it later, and head to a private school with nice dorms and good food.

  21. - WIU-QC - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 8:27 pm:

    QC Resident - St. Ambrose has an unofficial policy of matching WIU-QC’s price for commuter students. So what’s the incentive to choose WIU-QC over Ambrose?

  22. - QC Resident - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 8:34 pm:

    I was unaware that existed. That would make matters worse for WIU-QC.

  23. - Another WIU Grad - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 11:16 pm:

    Grad and former employee here. Jack needs to go. He doesn’t have a clue. New board asap as everyone has said. The University has not scaled itself as things have changed. Too little, too late. I have many friends still working there. The new Quad City campus should have never happened to the scale that it has. Build it and they will come just doesn’t work in this case. Should of polished what they had. Too much upper management always has been a problem. I don’t support emergency funds because it will only temporarily stop the bleeding.

  24. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 14, 19 @ 11:29 pm:

    As a suburbanite who’s paid 90% of K-12 through property taxes, and whose kids went to Michigan and DePaul, I urge JB to stand up for our regionals.

    Once they’re gone, they’ll never come back.

    And that’s on us.

  25. - downstateR - Friday, Mar 15, 19 @ 7:48 am:

    UPI (University Professionals of Illinois) began the request for emergency funding to reverse the layoffs. Without it, the layoffs stand at least for the moment. Get WIU a BOT, perhaps one that will fire the president, and work on enrollment.

  26. - Proud leatherneck - Saturday, Mar 16, 19 @ 8:42 am:

    Most accurate things I’ve read:
    “Horribly mismanaged”- it’s beyond the President. He and the entire top administration need to go. Gov. Should declare an emergency and remove the pres., appoint an interim,and an entirely new BOT. There are Leathernecks he could consult for advice including former state Sen. Dillard
    “Save the Regionals”. Beyond a doubt this should be done,
    Hammond and Mallrd, I don’t think would even know how to find WIU, much less support it.

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