State of Emergency

Eight Months. No Budget. What You Can Do.

Graphic by Mary Kroeck

Graphic by Mary Kroeck

Mary Kroeck

While governors in most states are preparing budgets for 2017, Illinois has yet to pass its budget for 2016. In fact, the state hasn’t had a budget in eight months.

Due to Springfield’s failure to pass a budget, Chicago State University sent layoff notices to all 900 of its employees and Northern Illinois University announced layoffs of 177 of its employees.

Desperately needed services like youth outreach programs and meals for seniors are being cut and drivers across the state have paid fines for not renewing their vehicle registrations because the state stopped sending notices in the mail. We’re in a state of emergency and we all need to step up and make our voices heard.

It’s easy to think this problem doesn’t impact us. It’s easy to do what most of NEIU seems to be doing–operating like it’s business as usual. It’s the easy thing to do, but I’m not sure it’s the right thing.

About a month ago, I was in the library when a student said she’d heard NEIU might be closing and asked if it was true. I told her the truth–I don’t know. Then I thought, “What if it did?”

Earlier this year I wrote about what social justice means to me and encouraged readers to call and write to their state representatives about the budget crisis. I know it seems hard, especially if you’ve never done it before or you can’t find the words. So, I wanted to share what I wrote to one of my representatives–in an edited form–so you could send your own letter to your legislators.*

If anyone would like to modify this letter and send it on to their Illinois representative, I encourage you to do so. It will be posted on so you can easily copy, edit and send. If you’d like to find the contact information for your representatives and learn about how the lack of budget has impacted citizens throughout the state, visit:

Chicago State: NEIU stands with you.

Illinois legislature: Please do your job. Save our schools.

*Sample letter:

Dear Senator or Representative,

I am a student at Northeastern Illinois University. Until this semester, I’ve loved being a student there. I’m sad, scared and frustrated that NEIU, Chicago State and all of our state institutions are in dire need of a budget that isn’t being passed in Springfield.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has rejected funding for MAP grants, which greatly help Illinois students seeking to further their education, and Chicago State is looking at shutting its doors. From what I understand, NEIU is heading down that same path if you, your peers and Gov. Rauner don’t act soon to rectify this situation.

I am your constituent. I voted for you. I’m also a student who’s terrified by the current situation my school, the other state universities and students throughout Illinois are in.

I know there are many issues on the table with the state budget. However, I implore you to do everything within your power to save Illinois universities and help the students of our state succeed. We deserve that chance, not because we’re entitled to it, but because we are working to better ourselves to become productive citizens of this world and make this an improved state  for everyone. Isn’t that what education is all about?

I thank you, kindly, for your time and attention to this matter. I hope that you will help to get a reasonable state budget passed in time to keep the doors of Chicago State, NEIU and all Illinois state universities open.


A Concerned Student