Spring session ends without budget

scissors cutting a dollar billThe Illinois General Assembly adjourned its spring session May 31 without reaching agreement on a budget for the second consecutive year.

“These consecutive failures in Springfield are unprecedented in Illinois history,” said University of Illinois President Tim Killeen. “I am gravely concerned about the implications for our students, our faculty and staff and our campuses if we are forced to weather another protracted period without adequate funding from the state. This great university system is not in danger of shutting its doors, but a crisis is worsening nonetheless.”

In April, legislators approved a bipartisan plan to provide $600 million in stop-gap funding to keep state public universities and community colleges operating through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. The measure provided $180 million to the university, compared to the $647 million appropriated for fiscal year 2015.

“To date, we have weathered the shortfall responsibly through significant cost-saving initiatives, structural reforms and prudent financial management,” Killeen said. “But we cannot withstand a continued loss of state funding without considerable damage to our core missions — teaching, research, public service and economic development.

“All options are on the table as we go forward — layoffs, reductions of academic programs, closure of units and cuts in a health care enterprise that provides critical care to underserved populations in Chicago.”

University administrators will continue to work closely with lawmakers to advocate for more funding, he said.

Killeen encourages alumni, employees and students to contact their state legislators through the Illinois Connection website.

“We encourage you to join our chorus, urging approval of state budgets to fund our public universities for both fiscal 2016 and 2017,” he said. “Your voices matter. You are voters, not just advocates, and each of you can speak first-hand to the value of higher education.”

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