Illinois House, Senate Consider Plans to Cut Higher Education Spending

Tim Goral's picture

Illinois’ public universities are bracing for another year of significant cuts in state revenue.

Under a budget proposal floated in the House on Friday, direct aid to universities would be cut by 6.1 percent. A Senate version of the spending blueprint would cut the state’s contribution by 3.25 percent.

While university officials wait for the House and Senate to reconcile their financial differences, they also are waiting to hear how much the state will contribute to the employee retirement funds at each institution as part of a sweeping overhaul of the state’s underfunded pension systems.

“We all could be facing a double hit,” Western Illinois University legislative liaison Dave Steelman said Friday. “It’s more bad news. It’s not going to be a good budget for anyone.”

For now, many of the funding questions remain unanswered as lawmakers work toward a May 31 adjournment date.

And even then, it may take some time for the dust to settle.

“It won’t become clear for at least several weeks, if not even a little longer,” said Jay Groves, spokesman for Illinois State University President Al Bowman.

The House version of the budget will mean a $4.8 million decrease in the state’s annual contribution to ISU.

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