Dear Commons Community,
Fiscal emergencies have been plaguing Illinois public universities and none of the state’s nine higher-education institutions have received a full year of state operating funds since the 2015 budget year. State law required the schools to demonstrate their fiscal status was a “financial emergency” to receive the money. Each school submitted detailed financial reports, including cash flow statements showing evidence of depleting resources, cash management strategies, pending debt payments and analysis of possible use of restricted funds. The schools also had to demonstrate efforts to cut expenses, including reducing or reallocating staff and reducing programming. Last week, three of the state’s most financially vulnerable public universities were set to receive a combined $17 million in emergency funding to support operations through the end of the year. As reported by the Chicago Tribune:
“Members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education voted unanimously to approve the last-minute cash for Western Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Chicago State universities. Under the agreement, Western would receive about $8.4 million, Eastern about $5.6 million and Chicago State just more than $3 million.
The money was provided through a second stopgap plan to keep schools open, which Gov. Bruce Rauner signed June 30. The Illinois Board of Higher Education received $20 million from the state’s general revenue fund and is able to distribute it to schools that showed they were in fiscal crisis.
The board earmarked the remaining $3 million to the Illinois Community College Board, which will report in December on which community colleges qualify for the funding and how it should be divided.”
These are troubled times for public higher education with all indications that things will get worse before they get better.