Killeen statement on stopgap funding agreement
Today, the Legislature approved a bipartisan measure that will provide stopgap funding for the University of Illinois and the state’s other public universities, and the governor has expressed his support for the bill.
While we are grateful that partial funding will be restored, we see the agreement as only a beginning, not the end. We will continue to advocate strongly for adequate funding to support our students and our campuses, and I have outlined our goals and concerns in the statement below, which has been shared with legislators and with the media.
I will continue to update you as our efforts unfold, and my thanks to all of you for your dedicated service to this great university.
Statement from University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen:
The University of Illinois system appreciates and welcomes the bipartisan effort in Springfield to provide partial, stopgap funding for the state’s public universities, which have been forced to manage through the first 10 months of fiscal year 2016 with no state appropriation.
The action today recognizes the importance of public higher education in Illinois and the critical role that universities throughout the state play in the well-being and prosperity of our citizens.
It is imperative that public universities in Illinois receive responsible, sustainable levels of financial support from the state. The legislation avoided a catastrophe of no state funding for higher education for fiscal 2016 and it will help public universities continue to operate through the end of this fiscal year.
However, the measure is insufficient as a total funding commitment for fiscal 2016, providing $180 million for the U. of I. – compared with $647 million for fiscal 2015. The U. of I. may be forced to make additional significant reductions in faculty, staff, academic offerings, student programs, economic development initiatives and public service if it does not receive more than the 27.8 percent of last year’s appropriation that is provided in the stopgap bill.
The stopgap appropriation also includes greatly reduced funding for the University of Illinois Hospital – about $11 million, or a quarter of fiscal 2015 levels – which will put medical care at risk for thousands of patients, many from underserved communities.
Funding for Monetary Assistance Program grants also is partially restored, but would provide only about $170 million statewide – about 45 percent of the fiscal 2015 appropriation and short of the needs to serve deserving students across the state.
The U. of I. is the state’s largest educator, with a statewide presence and 80,000 students, and state funding for our operations accounts for 54 percent of the state’s appropriation for public universities. Ninety-five percent of the appropriation is dedicated to personnel costs. Our fiscal 2015 appropriation covered the salaries of roughly 6,000 employees, and funding at the levels proposed in the stopgap measure would cover only 2,000.
We strongly urge the governor, legislative leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers of both parties to continue to work on a comprehensive budget for fiscal 2016 that includes levels for higher education closer to the level seen in fiscal 2015, along with adequate funding for fiscal 2017.