WIU Leadership Presents Budget Testimony Before State House, Senate Appropriations Committees
April 22, 2013
MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas recently presented budget-related testimony before the Illinois House and Senate Appropriations Committees to urge legislators to support funding for higher education. Thomas appeared before the House April 11 and the Senate April 18.
"It is an honor to share the budget testimony for Western Illinois University," Thomas said at both hearings. "Our educational model demonstrates our commitment to student success, and we appreciate the support that the state provides us in meeting these goals."
Prior to discussing Western's Fiscal Year 2014 budget requests before both committees, Thomas shared recent accomplishments, including Western's continued stellar rankings in U.S.News and World Report, the Princeton Review and GI Jobs Magazine. Thomas also highlighted Western's commitment to serving students from diverse backgrounds and socio-economic levels, which aligns with the Illinois Public Agenda to provide access to public higher education for all students.
"We are using our financial resources for the public good of the citizens of the state of Illinois," he said. "We recognize our important role in the future of this state, and will continue to be innovators in the educational process to produce graduates who will become contributors to the great State of Illinois."
Thomas also stressed that delays in reimbursements, as well as possible decreases to FY'14 state appropriations, make planning for the future difficult and has resulted in implementing numerous cost-cutting measures. Of significant concern is the lack of funding for deferred maintenance, Thomas added. Western's current deferred maintenance backlog is more than $550 million.
"Another significant concern is educational affordability for our students. Public universities continue to be criticized for tuition and fee increases. Yet, our general revenue support from the State of Illinois has decreased by 13 percent ($7.7 million) in the last four years," he pointed out. "Our students carry the burden for many of these reductions and as a result, Illinois has become the second largest exporter of students for higher education."
While Thomas noted that given the state's current fiscal situation, Western's hope is for at least static funding and no further decreases, along with funding for critical deferred maintenance, the Quad Cities campus operations and instruction and student financial aid for academically talented students with high financial need. Thomas also stressed the need to support capital projects that were funded with the 2010 capital bill, including the construction of the Performing Arts Center on the Macomb Campus.
The complete committee(s) testimony can be found at wiu.edu/news/lecture_archive/fy14testimony.php. In addition, Thomas and Budget Director Matt Bierman presented special budget presentations for the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses April 17. The PowerPoint presented at the April 17 sessions and a "Frequently Asked Questions" document can be viewed at wiu.edu/Budget/news.