Gov. Quinn signs capital plan, $85.9 million headed to SIU

By Gus Bode

After nearly a decade’s worth of delays from state government, the university is set to benefit from the state’s first construction plan in seven years.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed bills Monday that will give the state $31 billion worth of construction funds, $85.9 million of which will be heading to SIUC for construction purposes.

‘We are very grateful for the fact that the capital finally came through and that (SIU) was able to get about $175 million on it,’ said SIU President Glenn Poshard. ‘Considering that over the last 25 years or so we have gotten about $225 million, we feel pretty good about it actually. That is about as good as we can expect right now.’


Highlighting the university’s funds will be $56.7 million for the construction of the proposed Transportation Education Center and roughly $17 million to complete the Morris Library renovation, including money for the book transfer from McLafferty Annex to the library.

The university will also get $4.3 million to fix the Communications Building and money to help reduce the deferred maintenance bill, which is more than $400 million.

‘The Tech Center will really help with enrollment and help with a lot of stuff that we need for the aviation program and automotive program,’ Chancellor Sam Goldman said. ‘We will at long last be able to finish the library. The bill is good because maybe it will provide some employment and people can feel a bit better.’

But as the university rejoices in its construction funds, it should be wary of the future, Poshard said.

Last week, Quinn said he would take his proposed income tax increase, a proposal Poshard said was the university’s last remaining hope to receive adequate funding, off the table until November in efforts to resolve an unbalanced state budget as quickly as possible.

‘Let’s face it, if no income tax is in place by then, than everything is off the cliff because there will be no funding left at all,’ Poshard said. ‘There is only enough funding right now for six months. Let’s just pray after the filing period that legislators sit down and get their heads together coming into December with funding in place.’

Poshard said Quinn’s strategy on delaying a tax-increase vote is probably for the best. Not only will it grant Quinn six more months to work with legislative leaders, it will also allow legislators to see who their opposition will be in upcoming primary elections, Poshard said.


‘There was no way the income tax was going to pass,’ he said. ‘But the income tax is still the only thing that can be done.’

Still, Goldman said he remains concerned about the second half of the fiscal year.

‘We have put ourselves in a position with financial aid,’ Goldman said. ‘For example, we have no Monetary Assistance Program in the spring. We have frontloaded it and cut it in half and it’s all in the fall semester.’

With an operations budget still not in place, all state appropriated grants are being put on hold, meaning millions of dollars worth of grants are in jeopardy of being lost.

‘For us that is a major blow,’ Goldman said. ‘We depend on grants and if there are no grant funds, there are no grant funds. It is a very serious problem for us.’

The good news, Goldman said, is that Quinn’s proposal is in better shape to be passed if proposed again in November.

‘Right now, the Democrats have enough votes to pass the increase,’ Goldman said. ‘But in November, the primaries will be out of the way and they will have a better idea of who the opposition is. But the (Democrats) would also have to take the rap for (the increase). It’s very difficult. Who knows what will happen.’