Cash Flow Update [2/18/10]
February 18, 2010
Dear Western Illinois University Community:
On Wednesday, Feb. 17, a Senate panel endorsed Senate Bill 416, which would allow eight public universities the ability to borrow funds to deal with the current cash flow crisis. The plan, which advanced to the full Senate on an 8-5 vote, would give Western and the other Illinois public universities included in the bill the ability to borrow up to 75 percent of payroll and other expense vouchers submitted to the state, but unpaid 30 days prior to borrowing. Universities would be required to pay back the loans within 18 months. [See full story at pantagraph.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/article_502e0f42-1c1f-11df-a9b0-001cc4c002e0.html].
While borrowing would help Western and other institutions pay bills, this is an option of last resort and one we do not wish to use as the University would be charged interest in the repayment of the loan. We would take advantage of this borrowing option only if cash flow problems would prevent the University from meeting our payroll obligations and instructional obligations for our students. At this time, the University is still expecting reimbursements from the State of Illinois totaling $29.4 million, representing nearly 60 percent of Western's appropriations. The lack of state payment is shifting the cost of higher education to our students and their parents. We are living on our income funds, such as tuition; however, these funds will only be available for so long. It is imperative that the state fulfills its obligations to state universities and students as has been promised.
In order to meet our monthly payroll and to avoid furloughs, we are continuing to operate as conservatively as possible. Since the Fall 2009 semester, we have asked all departments to limit spending to immediate operational needs only, and we have curtailed numerous events and most travel in an effort to save money. All vacant positions for the Spring 2010 Semester are being held, and all purchases over $500 must receive approval from the department's vice president. I appreciate the support we have received from all campus constituencies as we conserve resources. However, cutting costs alone will not solve cash flow issues.
Earlier this month, I joined with all other public university presidents and chancellors in the state urging Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes to honor the state's commitments of supporting and setting a payment schedule to allow the universities to manage our respective cash flow and sustain operations. As of Jan. 25, the taxpayer-supported public universities collectively remained more than $735 million behind in state payments of their total appropriation. To read the complete letter to Gov. Quinn and Comptroller Hynes, as well as other cash flow-related messages, visit wiu.edu and click on the "Cash Flow/Budget Information" link in the Highlights section.
As I have stated in the past, our primary goals at Western Illinois University continue to be to provide quality, affordable academic programs and educational resources to our students and to retain all of our employees.
I greatly appreciate your continued support during these very challenging times. I encourage you, as students and employees of Western Illinois University, to contact elected officials about this critical fiscal situation and its impact on Western Illinois University.