SIUC works around budget

State cuts could mean $14M funding decrease

It’s likely state budget cuts will not lead to layoffs at the university.

SIU President Glenn Poshard said instead, positions on campus will be left unfilled and programs will face consolidation.

By May 31, lawmakers must come to an agreement of the statewide budget for universities.

Every year the governor proposes a budget and both the Senate and House propose one as well before making a collaborative decision on the funding.

While the Fiscal Year 2012 budget for SIUC was $217 million, the Senate Bill proposes the FY13 budget at just less than $210 million – a 3.25 percent decrease. The House Bill, however, would cut the budget down to about $203.5 million – a 6.14 percent decrease. Poshard said he’s afraid the House Bill will pass since it’s the closest in resemblance to the governor’s budget proposal.

The largest cut into the university’s operations budget falls under personal services, which funds wages, salaries and benefits for faculty and staff.

Poshard said nearly 76 percent of the university’s operations budget goes toward personal services. Other line items of the operations budget include social security and Medicare, group insurance, travel, comodoties and equipment.

For FY12, personal services was granted almost $198 million. This year’s Senate bill proposes about $191 million in personal services and the House bill proposes about $186 million.

To combat these cuts, Poshard said the university will leave many positions open instead of refilling them after faculty and staff retire or leave.

There are 505 positions unfilled on campus, 80 of which are administrative, Poshard said. With the state threatening to make state universities pay all pension, he said, there will be a large number of retirements by June 1, and many of those positions will not be filled.

While SIU could be hit hard, other universities are dealing with pension issues as well.

Dave Steelman, Western Illinois University legislative liason, said if WIU in Macomb has to pay one percent of pension in the upcoming year, it’s effectively a 7.14 percent budget reduction for the university.

“That scares a lot of us,” he said.

WIU will likely have to replace unfilled positions, just like SIU, Steelman said.

Paul McCann, director of business services and treasurer at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, said the university will have to leave positions unfilled, too.

“The biggest thing is with retirements,” he said. “We won’t be rehiring.”

McCann said furlough days could be an option in the future, too, to save salary money, but right now it’s not necessary. Furlough days are when the whole campus closes down and takes an unpaid day.

Jay Groves, university spokesman for Illinois State University in Normal, said ISU won’t have to give layoffs or furlough days either.

“What we have talked about is that this might affect staff and salary increases, but it won’t become clear for weeks or months,” Groves said.

Another issue the state has imposed on universities is the lack of reimbursement for veterans’ tuition waivers.

Poshard said last year SIU Edwardsville spent $2.4 million in tuition waivers and SIUC spent $5.1 million. The state reimbursed the system less than $1.3 million for the waivers, he said.

This fiscal year, though, the state will not reimburse the universities at all for the cost, so that adds to the budget reduction.

This cut will be harder on Carbondale than surrounding schools because proportionally the university has more veterans. But Poshard said SIU won’t cut the tuition waivers.

“We can’t turn veterans away,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to.”

Medicare will also be cut from $2,346,700 to either $2,270,400 from the Senate proposed bill or $2,309,400 from the House, so faculty and staff will have to pick up a larger portion of their Medicare, Poshard said. Also, the salary increases in the faculty contracts must be complied with, he said.

In response to rising costs, the SIU Board of Trustees voted May 10 to raise tuition by 4.8 percent, or $3.3 million.

“We’re not trying to put the burden of all these cuts on the backs of the students,” he Poshard said. “We just can’t do without some additional revenue.”

But he said that doesn’t even begin to cover the loss of state funding.

The university will continue the hiring freeze and not rehire many of the positions left open, he said. Consolidations will have to be made to classes, too. Poshard said there may be some classes shared between the Carbondale and Edwardsville campus via televisions.

“Any time you consolidate or make classes larger, or don’t have as many faculty, it’s going to affect quality,” he said. “But this isn’t just us – it’s nationwide. We just have to manage the best way we can under the circumstances.”

It’s possible the funding could eventually lead to layoffs, Poshard said, but right now that’s not in the talks.

“We’re hoping to avoid that, but we don’t know how many people will retire,” he said.

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About Tara Kulash

You can reach Tara at tkulash@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext. 255.

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