SIU Considers Impact of Proposed State Budget Cut
Presidents from the state's public universities have met with lawmakers at the state capitol to object to Governor Bruce Rauner's proposed higher education budget for FY 2016.
The Governor's proposal includes a nearly 32% funding cut for the state's public universities. This week, SIU President Randy Dunn briefed the university's board of trustees on what the governor's proposed cuts could mean. Dunn says a potential loss of $64 million to the SIU system could mean the reduction of some 450 jobs on the Carbondale campus and 250 on the Edwardsville campus. Carbondale's share of the proposed cut is about $32 million.
During hearings last week in Springfield and a meeting this week with trustees, Dunn talked about a series of scenarios for cuts - a so called "outer ring" of university services that could include some of SIUC's regional programs that provide service to the
community as well as to the university. While the list has largely been kept internal, a few services have been mentioned publicly, including Touch of Nature and WSIU.
Dunn says it worries everyone a great deal. He says their approach is to ask those regional program and service units to look at their business model to see how those units could change their business model to taper off state support over a two or three year cycle.
Dunn says the university is trying to find the right balance of telling the story of what could happen while at the same time not inciting alarm and panic. He says SIU is at the juncture now where it needs to be very open about what's on the chopping block if this doesn't get fixed. The majority of SIUC's state appropriation goes to cover faculty and staff salaries which amounts to about 91% of the campus' state appropriation.
In addition to potential program and staffing reductions, SIUC is also looking at a probable tuition increase for fall. Options outlined for trustees range from no increase up to a 10% increase for new freshmen and transfer students. Carbondale campus officials say tuition would need to increase by about 4.7% just for the university to break even on tuition revenue next year. A 10% increase would result in about a $2.3 million bump in tuition revenue. The Carbondale campus is also looking at some possible student fee increases next year, especially for student health insurance. SIU will likely need to act on tuition and fees by May. Depending on how state lawmakers advance the FY'16 budget bills, the university may have to make that decision without a full picture of what its FY'16 state funding will be.