Dear SIU Employee,
By now I am sure you have been made aware of the University of Illinois’ intention to cut $82.0 million out of its current operating budget. I would like to stress that each public university in Illinois is now dealing with their own unique financial situation. For the fiscal year we are currently in SIU has a balanced budget. We were provided a funding level by the state legislature last July that represented a remarkable commitment to public higher education considering the dire financial position of the state. This was made possible in large part by the federal stabilization funds that were allocated to Illinois to avoid reductions in force at public educational institutions. The funding level also allowed us to enact the lowest tuition increase of the decade, and when combined with the many budget efficiencies we have undertaken in the last two years, enabled us to produce a balanced budget without layoffs or furloughs.
Tough budget times are nothing new for Southern Illinois University. For the last seven years SIU has undergone transformational change in dealing with the constant reductions in state appropriations for public higher education. The predicament we now find ourselves in at SIU is not a budget crisis, but rather a cash flow emergency created as an outgrowth of the state’s drastic drop in sales and income tax revenues as a result of the Great Recession. And, while this situation may very well develop into a full blown budget crisis next year for the university, the last thing in this economy is to furlough or layoff the very people who make this university great. It would send a devastating message to the Academy and staff while eroding confidence in this institution’s ability to deliver the educational benefits that our students and their families demand from us.
For our university we have thoroughly examined the use of furloughs and layoffs for the cash flow situation that we currently find ourselves in and we have determined that involuntary separation is not the answer. The savings yielded from any furlough or layoff plan simply cannot make up for the $100.0 million owed the University by the state of Illinois. Are furloughs and layoffs a real possibility for the next budget year? They may be, but we will not be rushed into that decision as a result of delays in state reimbursements. Our plan is to continue the steps that we have taken to improve our own cash flow position and to seek legislative authority to short-term borrow for operating expenses, as do many businesses and units of local government. I will also continue my efforts to encourage the legislature and Governor to move forward to address the state’s drastic drop in revenues. This Thursday I will be participating in a conference with the Governor’s Budget Director. If there are directions to proceed with FY10 budget reductions based on the inability of the state to provide the university its entire appropriation for the fiscal year, then the Chancellors’ budget teams will be asked to consider all options; however, until such direction is provided we will continue implementing the plan now in place.
As further information is available I will continue to share it with you.