SIU leaders talk options as state funding tap stays dry - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

SIU leaders talk options as state funding tap stays dry

(Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)

Leaders on Southern Illinois University's Carbondale campus are asking departments within the university to plan for a $34 million dollar deficit this fiscal year, a plan the school's spokesperson called a worst-case-scenario "exercise".

Between the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, the state of Illinois only gave SIU 40% of what they are owed, according to SIU Spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith.

Those funds were distributed in two last-minute stopgap measures passed by Illinois legislators.

The last time the state of Illinois had a formal state budget was during the 2015 fiscal year, which is why SIU is not receiving all of the money they are owed.

A letter was sent to SIU department chairs and directors in the last week of September explaining the situation, detailing that the Provost’s office has been asked to plan for a $10 million "give back", should the state not send them money.

“Chairs and Directors—The Deans were informed at a retreat this morning that the Chancellor has asked the campus executives to plan for a $34 million deficit THIS FISCAL YEAR. That means that we are going to be given a specific target amount for a one-time give back “for planning purposes” (I suspect the plan will quickly become a reality.)”

The letter's author could not be reached for comment, but Goldsmith confirmed the integrity of the discussion.

The letter goes on to ask campus leaders to form hypothetical spending plans outlining how a slash of that magnitude would be handled.

“This is not a proposal, and there is no directive to make cuts," Goldsmith said. "This is one budget scenario, built with the purpose to figure out what could happen should funding fail at the state level. It’s too early to tell what those numbers could mean in terms of layoffs or cuts.”

"If you're going to cut $34 million out of Southern Illinois University, there is no way that's not going to negatively affect some people's jobs… there's just no way to do it,” Illinois Education Association Uniserv Director Bret Seferian said. " the question is always in the details… What is the plan? How much are they prioritizing academics, and how much are they prioritizing things that are, more questionable, let's say."

SIU has already cut $21 million for the current fiscal year, much of which consisted of permanently eliminating currently vacant positions, Graduate Assistant positions and faculty.

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