University News

Budget Update June 2015

June 19, 2015

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Dear University Community:

The State Legislature and the Governor continue to deliberate on the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Typically, the legislature sends a budget to the Governor by May 31 of each year for approval. However, that did not occur this year and the legislative leaders continue to negotiate the terms of the FY'16 budget.

These negotiations include business reforms, increased taxes, and further reductions to state appropriations. The spending package that was passed by both chambers of the legislature reduced Western Illinois University's Fiscal Year 2016 appropriation by 8.6 percent ($4.5 million) over the original Fiscal Year 2015 appropriation. The total state-spending package is estimated to be $3-4 billion short from revenue projections and thus has not been sent to the Governor. We are engaged daily with our legislators and are strongly advocating for adequate funding for Western Illinois University. On June 16, WIU was one of two public universities asked to provide testimony to the Illinois State Senate on college affordability. We continue to be at the forefront of the discussions in Springfield.

As many of you are aware, WIU's state appropriation has declined from $64.3 million in FY'02 to $51.4 in FY'15. This 20.9 percent ($12.9 million) reduction continues to have a dramatic impact on Western. During this time, we have been forced to reduce expenses, reallocate funds, and increase tuition in order to protect employees and the quality education that we provide to the citizens of Illinois and others, all while still balancing the budget. This has taken a toll on our faculty and staff, facilities, and most certainly, on our students, yet we are forced to make strategic choices about where our dollars are allocated. Our employees continue to provide quality work despite dwindling resources. We continue to face difficult decisions.

With the uncertainty that remains in Springfield, I believe that we must begin to take action now on our FY'16 plans. The vice presidents and I have prepared a preliminary budget, as well as a list of reductions that will be made, for the upcoming year. We must cut nearly $4 million in appropriated expenditures for Fiscal Year 2016. Given the preliminary budget that has passed in Springfield and these reductions, we still anticipate a $6 million budget shortfall for FY'16. We will use University reserves to cover this shortfall for one year. Great care and thought have gone into these decisions in order to do what is best for the University. The vice presidents will be meeting with members of their respective divisions next week to provide context and information regarding any reductions that will affect their areas.

The leadership team and I have evaluated the salary increases that are scheduled for FY'16. We have several collective bargaining agreements that are in place to provide a 2 percent increase. The appropriate staff are making necessary preparations to provide these increases to our negotiated employees. Given the uncertainty of the Fiscal Year 2016 State appropriation, we are postponing the decision regarding salary increases for non-negotiated personnel until the General Assembly and Governor approve a budget. Given the financial situation of the state, postponing this decision is prudent. We appreciate the understanding of our employees during this time.

We have already begun to discuss the Fiscal Year 2017 budget. Knowing the realities of our own challenges and what we face in Springfield, we will come to the University community during the Fall 2015 semester to discuss the financial situation and provide the necessary information about how Western will move forward. By announcing the initial FY'17 plans in the fall, we hope to provide the campus a predictable strategy and set the expectations of what will be necessary to balance a difficult budget.

We will be faced with even more challenges in the coming years. These challenges must lead to discussions about how we deliver education to our students, and the types of programs we offer. They must drive us to consider change. It will take leadership and courage from the entire University so Western emerges stronger and with more resolve for our mission than ever before.

I am asking the University community for understanding regarding the upcoming reductions and to embrace the changes that will be necessary for Western to remain a leading university in public higher education.

Jack Thomas

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations