Rauner Cuts, School Prepares

Bruce+Rauner%27s+transition+team+has+asked+Illinois+state+universities+to+prepare+for+possible+budget+cuts

Steve Vance

Bruce Rauner's transition team has asked Illinois state universities to prepare for possible budget cuts

Maya Wagner, Senior Staff Writer

Governor-elect Bruce Rauner’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) has asked for all Illinois public universities, including NEIU, to prepare for a possible 20 percent budget reduction in state funding.
According to Michael Pierick, who serves as NEIU’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, the GOMB asked for two budget scenarios.

“The first called for a ‘maintenance budget’ scenario, the minimum necessary to maintain the current level of programs and services. Our request was submitted to GOMB on Dec. 10. The second calls for a ’20 percent budget reduction’ scenario,” said Pierick

This state budget cut would be drastic considering the fact that Illinois currently appropriates $37.75 million to NEIU. Pierick said, “A 20 percent budget reduction would be a cut of $7.55 million.”

When asked about how this possible budget reduction would affect students on financial aid, Pierick replied, “We have worked hard in the past few years to build up our funding for institutional financial aid, which is separate from federal financial aid such as Pell Grants. We would work hard to try to preserve what we have built up, but it’s difficult to imagine that we could preserve all of it.”

NEIU’s faculty would also be negatively affected by this potential budget cut. Pierick said, “Since 81 percent of our budget is for personnel costs, and much of the other 19 percent is for contracts and supplies (such as utilities, etc.), that cannot be cut by much, a 20 percent reduction in the state appropriation would have a dramatic effect on our employees, and therefore our students.”
As far as what plans are in place to preserve NEIU’s financial stability, Pierick noted that future decisions would have to go through administrative channels.

“It’s hard to imagine responding to a $7.55 million cut without cutting some classes, increasing some class sizes and increasing tuition more than has already been approved,” said Pierick

Pierick added, “Everything we do at NEIU affects students, faculty and staff. Every budget reduction negatively affects all of those groups and in the end affects students the most since students are why we do everything we do.”