SIU Trustees approved a one-percent increase in pay for non-represented employees Thursday, but leaders are still concerned about ongoing fiscal problems across the SIU System, and in higher education in general at the state and national level.
The pay increases are retroactive to July first, and cover employees who are not represented by the bargaining units on the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses, which already received contractually obligated raises.
SIU President Glenn Poshard reported to the board that the state has yet to give SIU its full appropriation for the fiscal year that ended in June - and still owes 54-million dollars. In addition, he says the state is already 43-million dollars behind in FY 2013 payments. Poshard says pairing the state's problems with those at the federal level leaves few options for administrators in higher education. Faced with a decline in state and federal funding, SIU Trustee Marquita Wiley says it's time for SIU to start going it alone on finding more money: Shes says she doesn't see a clear point where there will be a recovery in terms of the state's capacity to give SIU those dollars back unless there's a tax increase which is politically unpopular. Carbondale Chancellor Rita Cheng says her office is already looking at options. She says the campus's status as a research institution allows for some opportunities through research, development, and innovation. President Poshard says an additional concern is the possibility of the federal government moving toward sequestration - meaning across the board cuts not just to higher education funding, but also to grants and other awards that bring in money to the schools. He says without a solution to the budget crises in Springfield and Washington, the next several years are going to be very difficult for public education.
SIU Trustees also approved a final budget for the fiscal year - general operating funds total 416-million dollars and the overall budget stands at 879-million system-wide. Both totals represent a decline from last fiscal year.