NEIU Prepares For Proposed $11.9 Million Cuts

Michael+J.+Pierick+shares+insight+to+Governor%27s+impending+cuts

Emmanuel Gonzalez

Michael J. Pierick shares insight to Governor's impending cuts

With a recent budget proposal in the state general assembly, NEIU administration held an open forum to prepare for what might be a financial “doomsday.”

Students, faculty and staff sat next to one another to listen to the strategies NEIU leaders planned in order to work with the proposed 31.5 percent cut of state funds to public universities by Governor Bruce Rauner.

The Open Budget Forum was hosted by President Hahs and Vice Presidents of Finance and Administration, Student Affairs, Institutional Advancement, and Academic Affairs

The 31.5 percent cut would affect the 12 public universities in the state of Illinois. The presidents and chancellors of those universities, including Hahs, helped develop a pamphlet to present to lawmakers that showed the “value of public education in Illinois.” The pamphlet contains information about the effects of decrease in school funding as well as the benefits of having a college education.

“It is being delivered to every legislature and their staff, the governor and some of the governor’s chief people,” said Hahs.

Hahs and vice presidents will be reporting to the Illinois House and Senate Appropriations Higher Education Hearings to communicate NEIU’s achievements, future needs, and the effects of the 31.5 percent cut on NEIU as a whole.

“We will be talking about it with different individuals when we visit them, so we are trying to litter the landscape with these important ideas that belong to all of us,” said Hahs.

“What I am going to do is propose a new focus between $6-$8 million. I honestly think, and most people do, that we will not receive the $11.9 million cut, but we don  said Hahs.

NEIU receives a state appropriation, or funding, that makes up the first source of revenue for the school’s operating budget. The other source, student tuition, continues to be a dwindling source of revenue for the school as enrollment drops. The proposed budget, that would cut aid to NEIU by $11.9 million, is a third of NEIU’s fiscal year 2015 budget of $37.8 million.

6 ways to cut $11.9 million

The university would only receive $25.9 million for the fiscal year of 2016, resulting in major cuts to six areas: the president’s office, academic affairs, finance and administration, student affairs, institutional advancement, and general university.

If the $6-$8 million proposed by Hahs was in effect, the cut would be divided into the six budget areas. Academic Affairs, Student Administration, and General University would be taking the biggest cuts.

Academic Affairs would be receiving the largest cut with a range of $3 million to $3.3 million. Some of the affected areas are the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, Business and Management, the Library, and the Graduate College.

Finance and Administration would receive a maximum $1.1 million cut that affects the university’s budget that includes University Police, the Child Care Center, Mail/Shipping and Receiving, and Parking.

The General University budget would affect areas like Institutional Financial Aid, Legal Fees, and Debt Services.

“State Appropriations hit a low not seen since the fiscal year of 1988,” said Michael Pierick, Vice President for Finance and Administration, the State Appropriation then was $25 million.

“Public universities used to be well supported by state appropriations, they are not any longer well supported by state appropriations, so that more than anything else is what has cause tuition to increase.”

Public comments

“We do seem to be leaping at what I think everybody else in the room feels would be kind of a ridiculous number that he’s (Rauner) proposed,” said Timothy Scherman. “How then did we reach the estimate that we’re now playing for, I guess, that would be to ask is there something you can share?”

“It sounds bad, it sounds awful,” Dr. Christina Gomez Professor of Sociology began, “it sounds to me like you’re telling us that we are going to lose personnel.”

To which Hahs responded, “The questions about whether jobs will be lost is very much a possibility and we’re on our doomsday beginning of our journey and I hope the end result is not what we think it is but preparing is more useful than not.”

In the House Appropriation Higher Education Hearing reports, it was stated “the potential termination of 150-190 employees, over half of whom are teaching faculty (  tenure line and instructors).”

“We are working on student housing right? On one hand we are breaking even and we’re not going to make any money, on the other hand we are pushing people out of their homes and residences just to break even, at what cost? With everything that’s going on with 31.5 percent cut how are we justifying the legal expense of eminent domain and the bad press we’re getting to break even and then we’re going to make cuts?” Laura Nichols is an Administrative Assistant II in the College of Education, NEIU alumna and resident of the community.

“I think when we speak of breaking even we’re talking about the cost of the housing, it must be self-sufficient, our goal is to bring more students to Northeastern because with more students coming who pay tuition that will be the source of our budget meeting for the future,” said President Hahs.