Time is ticking: Illinois’s budget crisis must be resolved

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Illinois has been without a budget for more than 20 months now. While that might seem trivial to our campus, the fact that our state government has still yet to pass a budget for a full fiscal year could be devastating to present and future SIUE students.

It’s time for all of us to take action and to loudly and repeatedly tell our state legislature and Gov. Bruce Rauner this budget stalemate cannot continue.

Despite what some may think, SIUE is facing consequences from our government’s continued inaction. In February, the staff wrote about how the state budget crisis was causing major complications with SIUE employees’ health insurance plans, and we’ve already cut two varsity sports in the last year: men’s tennis and women’s golf. 

Edwardsville’s sister school in Carbondale reported last March that SIU System President Randy Dunn asked for a plan in case of a “doomsday scenario” where the university system went without funding from the state until after elections in November. Luckily, the state offered a stopgap last year, but that money has already run out.

We’re back to square one, and no better off than we were a year ago. In fact, we’re worse off.

USA Today reported the Illinois House of Representatives failed to override Gov. Rauner’s veto of the Monetary Assistance Program, which provides  thousands of dollars to lower-income students.

The Daily Eastern News, Eastern Illinois University’s paper, covered a meeting between the Illinois Senate Committee on Higher Education and numerous representatives from Illinois universities, including SIUE. 

“If we go through the spring with no support from the state, it would be devastating,” Dunn told the committee. 

Dunn also mentioned the possibility of closing down academic departments or even closing down a college, if the SIU system has to go through the spring without any funding.

We are rapidly running out of time to make sure this problem gets fixed.

Although we are no longer in an election cycle, as students in Illinois, we do not have the luxury of being politically disinterested anymore. The longer this crisis continues, the worse off we as a university will be.

The fact that we are a university where professors’ jobs are constantly endangered and health insurance is not being properly covered means SIUE will not be able to attract top-notch teaching talent going forward.

With all of that said, it should be noted that in his most recent Q&A in Alton last week, Chancellor Randy Pembrook made it clear SIUC will most likely bear the brunt of the financial stress, but that does not mean that SIUE students can just ignore this problem either.

We must all be active in making sure our representatives and Gov. Rauner know we will be holding them accountable in every election going forward, or else their pointless political squabbling will endanger our university as we know it. 

You can find contact information for Gov. Rauner and your local representatives at http://ift.tt/1W25Qz2

 

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March 22, 2017 at 10:41PM

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Time is ticking: Illinois’s budget crisis must be resolved

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