ISU and EIU struggle with State budget impasse

Oct 5, 2015

Leaders of several state universities and community colleges are sounding the alarm as they begin month three of receiving no money from Illinois. State support for Illinois’ 12 public universities and its 49 community colleges is the largest part of the state government that isn’t being funded during Springfield’s budget impasse. 

To cut spending during the state’s partial government shutdown, Illinois State University has already implemented a hiring freeze and eliminated 76 positions, in addition to delaying noncritical construction projects. 

ISU President Larry Dietz says he’s not prepared to make cuts that would affect students’ academic paths, like cutting classes.

“To me, we have an ethical contract with students whenever we admit them. We have an obligation to help them achieve their academic goals. And if we should shortchange them on that, to me, that’s just not the right thing to do.”

Dietz says ISU can dip into savings for the time being, but the uncertainty of the state’s budget situation makes it difficult to plan how much to use and how much to save.

While the state’s bigger schools, like the University of Illinois, are able to truck along without much impact on students, the situation at Eastern Illinois University is more dire, officials say.

EIU’s president told lawmakers at a hearing today that if the state doesn’t pass a budget, the school is in danger of shutting down operations during the spring semester.

Eastern has already dipped into savings and eliminated 159 workers from its staff, saving $12 million dollars this year. But President David Glassman says any further cuts could mean potentially irreversible economic loss for the region and state.