A year later: Illinois’ budget crisis

Impasse affects colleges, services

Kayte Bernardoni, IVCC Honors Student

Illinois lawmakers have been unable to pass a spending budget for the current fiscal year, which started July 1, 2015, leaving many Illinois colleges and universities flailing.
Illinois is currently in its tenth month without a budget, as an unbelievable stalemate between Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan continues to wreak havoc throughout the state. Rauner, a Republican, and Madigan, a Democrat, have failed to see eye to eye on how the Illinois budget should be framed.

Because of the deadlock, major state colleges and community colleges have been forced to dismiss teachers and staff, as well as hike tuition rates mid-way through the year at some institutions.

Social services, such as nursing homes and hospitals, are also being affected by the lack of money being distributed.
Throughout the state, all state-funded institutions of higher learning are undoubtedly being affected by this impasse. Four-year colleges specifically being affected include Southern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University and Chicago State University. Community colleges being greatly impacted include Parkland, Richland, Rock Valley and John A. Logan.

SIU officials have reported that the school’s cash balance is currently 43 percent less than it was in 2015, an alarming deduction that does not bode well for students looking to attend the school. While SIU has not had major layoffs, the school has chosen to not fill almost 100 available positions.

Western is also in the same situation, as MAP funding and financial aid are extremely inadequate. As a way of saving money on payrolls, WIU created a retirement incentive program that resulted in over 50 staff members choosing to retire on Dec. 31, 2015. Representatives from the school have also reported that since the fiscal year of 2016 started, 13 positions have been eliminated.

Dr. Tom Ramage, Parkland College president, believes that starting at a community college will greatly help students who wish to gain a higher education, but are afraid because of rising tuition costs and unsure futures for many schools.

However, even Parkland is still in need of a budget with satisfactory funding: 70 people could lose their jobs if one is not provided. Parkland’s latest budget has cut $3.5 million from funding and tuition rates have risen by 12 percent. At Richland Community College, $2 million has been removed from their latest budget. When asked where she believes the school will be within the next three years, president of the college Dr. Gayle Saunders hopes to see the school functioning smoothly without any state aid.

In addition, social services are seeing the same types of problems. Heritage Health Therapy & Senior Care in Peru has seen many vacancies in employment remain that way because of limited funding. While layoffs have not yet occurred, the company will continue to struggle if funding is continually reduced.

Overall, the state budget’s impact reaches far and wide throughout the state. From education to health services, institutions are having to tighten their belts at the expense of Illinois residents. Without a budget in place, debts and layoffs will continue to rise, which is why it is vital that an agreement is reached soon.

State Legislature OKs partial funding for higher education

Corcoran on budget
“We’ve been told to expect to see 27 percent of our share of the year’s allocation for operating funds and equalization; therefore, we’re planning on receiving approximately $611,000 out of the $2.2 million full amount [from the state].”
On MAP grants
“We covered $492,000 on behalf of 477 students. It’s not clear what we can expect to receive from that amount. The only thing we’ve been told for sure is that from the total of $170,000,000 approved for MAP grants, community colleges will receive a share of 10 percent.”
On state debt
“Approximately $1.6 million plus the remaining MAP funds [is still owed to IVCC from the state].”