WIUM Local
6:58 pm
Tue January 5, 2010

University Workers to Feel State's Budget Pain

Urbana-Champaign – About 11,000 University of Illinois employees will have to take four unpaid days off work between now and the middle of May. U of I administrators say furlough days have become unavoidable.

The university faces a $440 million shortfall in state funding. Administrators say the state has given the U of I only 7% of the support it expected from this year's budget.

Interim president Stanley Ikenberry says no layoffs have been ordered, but departments are being asked to consider them because next year is not looking any better.

"Until we see the state leadership - the governor, the leaders, the members of the General Assembly - and frankly the citizens of the state rallying around a long-term solution, I think we're going to be dealing with a mounting financial crisis," says Ikenberry.

Ikenberry believes the state will need to cut its spending and increase taxes to dig itself out of the budget deficit.

U of I Chief Financial Officer Walter Knorr says the university has borrowed millions of dollars from its own funds. In addition, money from tuition, federal support and private giving have also kept the university going.

The four-day furloughs were announced Tuesday. They do not affect civil service employees, but Knorr says their bargaining groups will be asked to put similar actions into their contracts.

About 100 top administrators will take ten furlough days over the next five months.

Meanwhile, Governor Pat Quinn says the university will be paid - eventually.

"Well, the University of Illinois is owed money, as other vendors and institutions are," says Quinn. "In the course of the fiscal year, they'll be paid their entire amount of money. But obviously we want it paid as quickly as possible."

Quinn says he has long warned that the state needs new revenues in order to pay its bills.

Quinn tried to pass an income tax hike last year but was unable to get the legislature to vote for one.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio