The governor of Illinois picks up the ax

Illinois governor RaunerThe governor of Illinois proposed a state budget, and it includes massive cuts to public higher education.  Bruce Rauner offered a $387 reduction in state support, down about one third from the current level.  It could be another state-mandated queen sacrifice in the making.

What would this do to Illinois public universities?  Here’s one instance.

The University of Illinois, the state’s largest provider of higher education, said the proposed cut would mean a reduction of about one-third of its state funding, or nearly $209 million.

Here’s another:

Doug Baker, president of Northern Illinois University, said the DeKalb school would endure a 31.5 percent cut in its state appropriations. That would mean the state’s contribution to NIU’s budget would drop to $63.8 million from the current $93.1 million. Already, the university receives less than 25 percent of its $426 million budget from state funds.

Would these cuts fall on faculty and academic programs?  I’m not sure, since I don’t know how many staff have been cut in recent years.

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In budgetary language, I’m not aware of how much “fat” there is.  But I can imagine institutions selecting low-enrollment departments to share the financial burden.

However, campuses might dodge this particular ax.  While Rauner is a Republic executive, Democrats control the Illinois legislature.  Their control is apparently veto-proof. So the proposal might just be a very strong opening move for negotiation purposes, .

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Several notes to add:

  1. Rauner wants to cut higher education while boosting K-12.  That’s a fascinating political move, perhaps aimed to split two education constituencies.
  2. As I noted a few days ago, this seems to be part of a multi-state wave of Republic governors going after public higher education.  Let’s see how far this spreads, and how the Democrats respond.
  3. Note Rauner’s language.  This is about walking back “recklessness“, casting the budget crunch as one of the state’s making, not forced upon it by outside forces.
  4. Here’s an entertaining news item from last October, headlined “Rauner wants more higher education spending”.

(thanks to Lisa Hinchliffe and my brother for pointers and reflections; photo from Wikipedia)

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5 Responses to The governor of Illinois picks up the ax

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