CARBONDALE — The Southern Illinois University system will take a $40 million cut next year if Gov. Bruce Rauner’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal is enacted — a fact that SIU President Randy Dunn said could lead to a “wholesale ending of programs” at the university’s three campuses.
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SIU budget leaders met in Edwardsville Monday afternoon to chart a course forward. Dunn said details of any proposed budget cuts will be made available over the coming weeks and months.
“I think it’s fair to say you’re going to see chunks of our operations, particularly those providing community development and regional support, start to disappear if this budget proposal isn’t moderated,” Dunn said.
In his budget address on Wednesday, Rauner made no mention of higher education or the nearly $400 million yet to be appropriated this year in grants to low-income students. But his full budget proposal outlines a 20 percent cut to Illinois public universities, and near-flat funding for the state’s community colleges and MAP grants.
The SIU system received about $200 million from the state during fiscal year 2015, or about 22 percent of its overall operating budget.
Thanks to budget stalemate in Springfield, Illinois’s public colleges and universities have gone nearly eight months without an appropriation from the state. University and college administrators have said it’s possible they will not receive any appropriation for the 2016 fiscal year.
Dunn, who attended the speech in Springfield, said he was dismayed by Rauner’s silence on the subject.
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“Given the straits we’re in this fiscal year, I guess I was disappointed not to hear any mention or acknowledgement that it’s been a very tough go, not only for universities but for students,” he said.
Rather than “sitting on the sidelines” as legislators craft a state budget for next year, Dunn said university presidents will take a more active approach this legislative season.
“The university presidents are going to be more assertive to say, ‘This is what we need to see in a bill to continue the mission-critical work we do for the students and the regions we serve,’” he said.
SIU has covered students’ MAP, or Monetary Award Program, funding for the 2015-16 school year. The state-sponsored program, which awards grants to low-income students, has yet to be funded this year.
Dunn said administrators will have to reevaluate the policy next year if Rauner’s 20 percent cut passes muster in the General Assembly.