$30M in cuts possible at SIUC; board postpones vote to borrow from SIUE

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - With nearly 22 months in the budget impasse, Southern Illinois University is starting to feel the pressure.

SIU Board of Trustees met in Carbondale to discuss the status of the university, the budget deficits and what the university will do moving forward.

There is still $30 million in potential cuts, and according to the Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell, the university will still continue to work on where to find that money.

There was much discussion and public comment today during the board meeting, many of whom were faculty and student representatives who wanted to get their voices heard about the cuts.

One faculty member, Kim Archer, from the Edwardsville campus passionately expressed her thoughts.

"My colleagues down in Edwardsville, we def have a feeling that we are less important than what goes on here in Carbondale. it's more important that anybody in Carbondale be kept afloat financially. This vote having been postponed and the timing of it in particular, really seems like people on the board heard what we had to say," Archer explained.

Another option was to borrow money from the SIU Edwardsville campus. Archer said she is not in opposition to helping the Carbondale campus, but said do it in a way that's smart.

President Randy Dunn set the record straight in regards to where the potential funding would come from at Edwardsville.

"This is not the operating money, this is not what you're living on month to month the payroll the contracts and all of the operations that go on. This is indeed the rainy day fund set aside for certain purposes specified," said Dunn.

The agenda entails not only regular school business and approvals, but also fiscal arrangements for the upcoming school year. In regards to the potential cuts, the university will address the following among other agenda items:

  • Changes in the faculty administration payroll
  • Temporary Financial Arrangements for Fiscal Year 2018
  • Authorization for the Loan of Unrestricted Funds Between Campuses and Notice of the Potential Need to Seek Declaration of a Short-Term Fiscal Emergency for the Carbondale Campus, Excluding the School of Medicine, for Fiscal Year 2018 (pending)

The state of Illinois' budget impasse is now in its 21st month and lawmakers have not indicated that an end is in sight.

As such, Southern Illinois University Systems President Randy Dunn said university leaders are finalizing plans to stabilize the system's financial position in order to keep all campuses running for the remainder of the fiscal year.

According to SIUC Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell, reducing its state-supported budget starting July 1 will be difficult. He said more than $20 million in reductions were already made in 2017.

Colwell said they will approach the $30 million cut in two ways:

  • Make $19 million in permanent cuts to state-funded accounts - those supported by state appropriations and tuition - to be implemented in the new fiscal year that starts July 1. This will amount to a 10 percent permanent reduction in state funding on top of the 10 percent already taken in the current fiscal year. This amount is based on the governor's proposed budget for FY18 as well as conservative enrollment estimates.
  • Implement a plan to pay back the unrestricted funds they have been using to operate during the state budget impasse. They will need to take an additional $8.3 million to $11 million in the first year of a 10-year repayment plan. The exact amount will depend, in part, on whether there is a stopgap budget before the end of the year. These numbers can also be reduced if they minimize all spending for the remainder of the fiscal year.

He went on to say he could not yet provide an estimate on the number of potential layoffs because this will depend on how units address their reductions.

You can click here for more information on how SIUC will approach both cuts

"Please note that these apply only to areas covered by state-funded accounts," Colwell said. "Some units, such as housing and other auxiliaries, receive no state funding. Others receive a mix of funding from the state and other sources.".

The academic budget review for Carbondale will be completed by May 1. That's when SIU President Randy Dunn said recommendations will be given to the Chancellor's Planning and Budget Council.

SIUE and the School of Medicine underwent review during the 2015-2016 school year, which led to significant cost reductions on both campuses, according to Dunn.

SIUC has suffered from enrollment losses which Dunn said has made budget operations on campus even worse.

The university has been operating without state assistance for the last 20 months.

According to Dunn, if the university does not receive any state appropriation, "SIUC operations will burn through about $83.8 million loaned internally from other unrestricted funds."

Dunn has laid out the recommendations he plans to take to the SIU Board on April 8 in an effort to address what he calls "the more extreme circumstances facing that [SIUC] campus."

Here is what Dunn said he will propose:

  • Consider declaration of short-term financial emergency under 2 Policies C.1.e -- but withholding any declaration of long-term exigency for later consideration, depending upon future state appropriations

  • Identify a minimum of $30 million (i.e., in addition to the earlier $21 million) operating cost reductions to be finalized by July 1, with implementation taking place as soon as can be accomplished -- any reduction actions requiring Board of Trustees approval should be presented for adoption at the Board’s July 2017 regular meeting and cuts proposed shall not be handled on an across-the-board basis

  • Authorize the Board Treasurer to loan certain unrestricted funds from the Edwardsville campus to the Carbondale campus to support the continued operations of SIUC 

In Dunn's column, he acknowledged that the proposal to loan funds from the Edwardsville campus to the Carbondale campus would not necessarily be well-received. However, he said that all of the money will be paid back.

According to Rae Goldsmith, the spokesperson at SIUC, the university does not currently have an operating budget because there is not state appropriation.

She said the last year it had a state appropriation, FY2015, the operating budget was $439,718,400.

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