Administrator optimistic for Eastern, state budget

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

Although the state budget for Illinois has not been passed yet, the university is still operating without one.

Paul McCann, the vice president of business affairs, said right now the lacking state budget does not affect the university as a whole.

“Eventually, when we use all of the tuition money at that point then it will have some effect because then I need those dollars to pay people to run the university,” he said.

McCann said although they have tuition money now, it will run out at some point this year.

“Tuition money is about as broad a use as any dollars that we get,” McCann said.

At the Council on University Planning and Budgeting meeting, he told the members of the CUPB that they were looking at a March-April timeline when they will start running low on money.

“During the budget cuts, we’ve been looking at various other ways we might be able to save money,” McCann said. “The bottom line is the state budget will be adopted at some point. There will be money coming forward to the university.”

McCann said he doesn’t know what the numbers will be; he said the university would still continue to run the way they have in previous years.

“We will do whatever we have to do to maintain the university and to produce students and to provide their education as we’ve done in the past,” McCann said.

Eastern usually gets around $40 million from the state.

McCann said there are four or five sources of funds.

About $100 million comes from tuition and from the appropriation from the state.

“There are local fees, the fees you pay in your tuition bill that makes up another part of the money we have, and then you have the housing and the auxiliary facilities areas that make up the rest of our total,” McCann said.

So far the university has cut operating expenses over the last few years, but when that was no longer an option, they started cutting personnel.

McCann said he was not aware of the budget being this late before.

“A few years ago, maybe 10 years ago, it did come in September, maybe October in that timeframe, but I’m not even sure we’re going to have a budget at that point this year,” he said.

They usually expect the budget to be done May 31, of the last fiscal year, becoming effective in July, meaning the budget for this fiscal year was expected May 31, 2015.

McCann said he thought the reason for the budget being late this year is because of the disagreements at state levels.

“The Democrats and the Republicans and the governor and the speaker of the house don’t agree on how to fund the operations of the state,” McCann said.

The governor proposed a 31.5 percent decrease in his original budget address as opposed to a 6.5 percent decrease proposed by the legislatures.

McCann does not know where the budget is going to be, but he does not think it will be 31.5 percent.

“I don’t know where it’s going to be. I don’t think it’s going to be at 31.5, don’t think it’s going to be at zero. It’s going to be somewhere in between there,” McCann said. “Our job is then to figure out how to use that money once the legislature decides.”

Even without a budget, the university is still able to plan for the future.

“We are always planning for the future to see how many dollars we’ve got, how much in the way of student tuition we’ll have,” McCann said. “We’re always planning. We look at what the potential source of funds are, and how we’re going to spend that money.”

McCann said people are mainly concerned about running out of money.

“I think that’s the only thing,” he said. “We will run out of money at some point and if we don’t have that state money, we will have to do other things at that point.”

One of the people concerned is Jon Blitz the University Professionals of Illinois president, as well as other members of UPI.

Blitz said while he does not think it will be a 31.5 percent cut, he does not believe it will stay at 6.5 percent.

“For every additional percent, it corresponds to $400,000, so where does that $400,000 come from?” he asked.

He said UPI is going to take action at some point, and take the local’s lead on what they should do.

“In my opinion, there’s going to have to be a crisis. And politicians are going to have to run scared, as people say ‘you sons of bitches have to do something,” Blitz said.

These things include borrowing money from the bank.

“It will depend on what kind of time frame and what we’re allowed to do at that point,” McCann said.

He said one thing he does not want to do is scare people.

“The political process in Illinois may be slow, but it will eventually work and we will have a budget at some point,” he said.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]