Eastern to see 2 percent increase in state appropriations

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

Eastern can expect to see a two percent increase in state appropriations compared to last year, after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a $38.5 billion budget into law Monday.

Eastern President David Glassman said during Monday’s edition of Issues and Attitudes on Hit Mix 88.9 WEIU that the university is very excited and grateful that the budget was signed into law.

“All the university presidents have been asking for is a predictable and stable budget, and it seems that we’re now on that road,” Glassman said during the show.

He said with the budget being signed early, unlike in the past where the state suffered through an impasse, it helps with planning and the budget process for Eastern and helps the public know that there is a stable budget and gives future students confidence to attend universities.

However, despite signing an early budget, Eastern is far from operating at fiscal year 2014/2015 numbers.

According to the Chicago Tribune, funding for public universities is about 8.2 percent less than what schools received in FY14-15, which was the year before the two-year long budget impasse.

Although Eastern will be seeing a two percent increase in appropriations compared to last year, Paul McCann, the interim vice president of business affairs, said that does not necessarily offset the decrease in enrollment tuition.

He said despite having a significant increase in the freshmen class, the university knows that students will be either graduating or leaving, which will bring down the overall enrollment for the fall semester, causing tuition income to be less.

As the university starts moving forward though, he said certain rules need to be applied when generating a budget like how many of the students in the freshmen class stay through graduation, which he said has been remarkably stable.

Then, once those rules are factored into the budget making process, he said the university will have an idea on how much money they will have.

Aside from the two percent increase in appropriations, the Monetary Award Program grants are fully funded in the new budgets and Eastern will receive a little over $10 million to go toward capital projects such as fixing the elevators in the Student Services building and McAfee Gym.

Glassman said, the state has already paid Eastern back for fronting the funds to cover MAP grants for students, but said some of the funds in the new appropriation for the capital projects are re-appropriated from funds Eastern never received in the past and McCann said not to set expectations too high.

“We didn’t get what we were supposed to get (before),” McCann said referring to last year’s appropriation that promised money for these projects on campus.

McCann said, if the university receives the funds to finish the projects, they can prioritize by first looking at the projects that affect students immediately.

These include repairs to Coleman Hall and the Life Sciences building, repairing the elevators in the Student Services building and McAfee Gym and fixing any safety problems as well.

As for the end of FY18, McCann said the state currently owes Eastern $400 thousand.

The current fiscal year ends June 30 but McCann said it is hard to tell where the university’s budget will be at that point, and whether or not the university will receive the funds.

Since the state reimburses the university for what it spends, the only way Eastern can receive those funds is if they spend the money budgeted for telecommunications.

At this point McCann said since the telecommunication expenses were less than what was expected, the university is working to move the money in that budget around to other expenses in order to receive the remaining state appropriation.

“We may get or we may not…we’re trying to move the budget around,” McCann said. “I want to be able to get all the money the state (owes the university).”

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].