May 30, 2017

/

Illinois, Latest News

Governor Rauner’s Failed Leadership Claims More Jobs As The State’s Higher Education System Takes Another Hit

Northeastern Illinois University Announces 180 Layoffs Due To Budget Impasse

While Governor Rauner fielded more softball questions from his Facebook Live event today, Northeastern Illinois University announced 180 layoffs due to the state’s continued budget crisis.

NEIU’s announcement is sadly not new in Illinois – higher education has been decimated under Bruce Rauner and his failed approached to governing. Illinois universities laid off hundreds of employees and suffered credit downgrades. Small and mid-sized universities reported dropping enrollments, a “double-hit” for schools already suffering state funding cutbacks.

The story is just as bad for the thousands of Illinois students who either lost their MAP scholarship funding or cannot be sure when they will get their grants.

When will Governor Rauner answer for the damage he’s done to the state’s higher education system?

“Today more Illinois residents lost their jobs and the state’s university system took another hit thanks to Bruce Rauner,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Thriving state universities and colleges have the potential to lift a state’s economy and secure a family’s future, but under Bruce Rauner these institutions are on life support and families are struggling to send their children to school. NEIU’s announcement should be a wakeup call for Governor Rauner to show real leadership and pass a budget.”

###

Background:

S&P Downgraded Credit Ratings Of 6 Illinois Public Universities. “Illinois’ budget crisis dragged down the credit ratings of six state public universities and Chicago’s community college system on Thursday in a slew of downgrades by S&P Global Ratings.” [Reuters, 4/20/17]

  • Illinois Had 5 Universities With Junk Bond Status. “Southern Illinois University’s credit rating was dropped into the junk level of BB from BBB, while ratings for Northeastern Illinois and for Eastern Illinois universities fell deeper into junk, at B, from BB. Western Illinois University’s rating was cut to BB-minus from BBB-minus and Governors State University’s rating was downgraded to BB from BB-plus.” [Reuters, 4/20/17]

Colleges Laid Off Hundreds of Employees. According a Sun-Times editorial, “How about 300? That’s the number of employees Chicago State University had to lay off on April 30. Or how about 258? That’s the number of employees, including 13 faculty members, Eastern Illinois University has had to lay off. Hiring is frozen and construction projects postponed. Or maybe 500? That’s the number of employees included in a furlough program at Western Illinois University, which also has laid off 145 employees. WIU has not filled 110 jobs that became vacant through attrition. The irony here is that Gov. Rauner and the Legislature, desperate to keep public universities open at least through the fall — you know, past the elections — approved $600 million for higher education in April. But the damage had been done, and more will be done until state funding becomes stable. Predictability is everything.” [Chicago Sun-Times Editorial, 6/28/16]

Wall Street Journal Headline: Illinois Budget Deadlock Hits College Enrollments.According to the Wall Street Journal, “The budget impasse in Illinois is beginning to depress enrollments at the state’s colleges and universities, as state money earmarked for low-income students remains tied up in a political stalemate that shows no signs of easing. More than 1,000 students failed to return for the second semester as their schools stopped picking up the tab for the $373 million Monetary Award Program, said Randy Dunn, president of the Southern Illinois University system. The program normally provides grants of up to nearly $5,000 to some 128,000 students with mean family incomes of about $30,000, said Lynne Baker, spokeswoman for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which administers the program. But with no state budget in place since summer, the program’s funding has stopped. ‘There are a lot of students at risk right now of losing money and dropping out of school,’ said Mitch Dickey, student body president at the University of Illinois. ‘We are at a really critical point.’ The problem is poised to grow quickly as schools wait for their share of about $1 billion in state funding.” [Wall Street Journal, 1/18/16]