Campus Connection.
April 18, 2003 Volume 19, Number 17


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Governor Recommends Funding for Western

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's April 9 budget outlined a reduction in funding for Western for the remainder of the current fiscal year and further reductions in state support for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

In his budget the Governor asked Western to reserve $1,768,200 from its FY03 state appropriation of $61,126,200. The 2.9 percent reduction was less than what originally was suggested by the Bureau of the Budget. The FY03 final operating budget for Western will be $93,550,700 compared to an FY02 operating budget of $95,639,800. The Governor recommended operational funding for Western and other Illinois public universities that would reflect an 8.2 percent cut in general revenue funds (a $5,034,900 cut for Western).

"The operating budget for FY04 will continue to be a challenge, but Western will provide academic programs, including summer school; uphold our mission of academic integrity; and protect our employees from layoffs," Western President Al Goldfarb said. "We will continue to review all administrative hires; and I have asked that all administrators review expenditures carefully in order to make reductions in travel, equipment purchase, commodities and contractual obligations."

The Governor also outlined a proposal for Illinois colleges and universities to put into place a program that allows students to pay the same tuition rate during their four-year enrollment. Western is currently the only public university in the state to offer a full cost guarantee to its students. Under Western's guarantee, students pay the same rate for tuition, fees, room and board from the time they enroll through four years of continuous attendance. Western's Board of Trustees will review tuition levels for the Fall 2003 incoming class at its April 28 conference call meeting.

The Governor's FY04 budget recommendations did not include partial funding for a Performing Arts Center (PAC) at Western. The $22.5 million PAC project was 14th on the statewide priority listing submitted by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) to the Governor and Illinois General Assembly. The proposed 110,000 gross square foot center would include a 1,900-seat proscenium theatre, a 300-seat thrust stage theatre and a 150-seat black box seat theatre with supporting facilities for a total cost of $49 million.

"We are disappointed that the Performing Arts Center was not in the Governor's budget but we will continue to work with our legislators and other government officials on our two top facilities priorities, the Performing Arts Center in Macomb and enhancing our presence in the Quad Cities," Goldfarb said. "The PAC is important for the long-term economic development of Macomb. If the state's fiscal situation cannot support projects this year then we will be back on everyone's doorstep next year and the next."

The IBHE had initially recommended an operating budget of $98,849,700 for Western in FY04. Approximately $1.95 million of the FY04 allocation has been committed to the State's group health insurance program in accordance with a ruling put in place during the FY02 budget year.

The Governor's FY04 budget recommendations will be considered by the legislature where there may be further discussions and changes.

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