State tax rate key to SIU funding

By Karsten Burgstahler

University given two scenarios, one flat funding and one involving a $25 million loss

Gov. Pat Quinn’s fiscal year 2015 budget calls for appropriations for state universities to stay the same. 

But President Glenn Poshard said numbers depend on the Illinois legislature voting to keep Quinn’s 2011 tax increases — specifically the 5 percent personal income tax and the 7 percent corporate tax. In 2011, Quinn said these increases would only be temporary, but he is now pushing to make them permanent.


If the legislature fails to retain the higher rates, Quinn’s contingency plan, which he does not recommend, suggests a 12.4 percent decrease in state appropriations. For SIU, funding would decrease $25 million, from $205 million to $180 million, more than half of the $45 million decrease the university has experienced during the past decade.

“Without the passing, or the keeping on of those two taxes, (the governor’s office) is saying ‘This is what we’ll have to face,’” Poshard said.

Poshard said he is scheduled to meet with the appropriations committee, in Springfield April 3, to explain what would happen to the university if it were forced to make a 20 percent appropriation cut.

However, Quinn’s warnings could be a result of the political climate this year in Springfield, Poshard said.

“There are a lot of legislators in Springfield right now that are opposed (to keeping the present rates) because they don’t want to deal with this before the next election, which is the problem we always have,” he said.

If the tax rates are cut and the university does lose the appropriations, vital programs will feel the pinch, Poshard said. There would be a reduction in Monetary Award Program grant funds of $50.3 million and 20,000 students across the state would lose those grants.

SIU is one of the largest users of MAP grants in the state, Poshard said.


Quinn received backlash for his proposal from legislators and citizens alike. A Paul Simon Institute poll released Monday showed 60 percent of those asked would not favor retaining the 5 percent income tax, and institute director David Yepsen said while the final vote will not happen until after months of debate, keeping the tax hikes, and therefore the flat funding, will be an uphill battle for Quinn.

“We’re going to spend several months talking about what the alternatives will be, the cuts that are going to be made if we do not do something in Illinois and that may change public opinion around,” Yepsen said. “It may prompt some legislators to … vote for this thing.”

However, Poshard said other parts of the poll show a conflict of interest. While 60 percent of those polled wanted to cut the income tax rate, the same percentage, or even more, didn’t want any program cuts, he said.

“You can’t have it both ways,” he said. “If you can’t maintain the present revenue stream, then the only way that you can look at balancing a budget is to cut services.”

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at [email protected]on Twitter @kburgstahler_DE or by phone at 536-3311 ext. 254.