Glassman talks capital development needs request, Springfield

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern requested $145 million in capital development needs and emergency capital needs from Springfield on Feb. 28.

Eastern President David Glassman said he and Paul McCann, the interim vice president of business affairs, were asked to testify in Springfield and discuss the university’s capital development needs.

Glassman announced this and gave a “Springfield update” during a meeting for the Council on University Planning and Budget on March 1.

He told CUPB members that he visited Springfield on Feb. 19, a day before Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget address.

He said he had a one-on-one meeting with Pritzker and talked about Eastern and its needs including the need for a capital development bill.

A capital bill or plan will help fix infrastructure and start on some construction for the state; this includes construction on buildings for state universities.

The last time a major capital bill was passed was about a decade ago.

But Glassman said he and other university presidents were called to testify in Springfield on Feb. 28 on what their capital needs requests were.

“They wanted to know our emergency needs, our capital renewal needs and what is our new capital construction needs,” Glassman said. “So, that’s pretty cool.”

Every year when universities submit their budget requests, they have to include what their capital renewal needs are and what emergency projects need to be done, Glassman said.

But, this is the first time the university presidents were called to speak about this in Springfield for 10 years, Glassman said.

Eastern’s emergency capital needs totaled $10.7 million, and that covers things on campus that have safety issues associated with them, Glassman said.

Those things include rebuilding the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union steps, the Booth Library steps, fixing Union sewage and water pumps, fixing the steam tunnel that runs under campus and fixing the field house roof.

Glassman said the capital renewal request was $15.67 million.

“We have much more that we desire in capital renewal, but we’re trying to ask for it scaled; this would be the first scale,” Glassman said. “In fact, as we have it listed, we have about $116 million worth of capital renewal projects on this campus.”

Capital renewal projects are deferred maintenance projects that are not emergencies like the flooding of a building, but they still need to be fixed.

As for new capital construction needs, Glassman said there is a need for a new science building that would cost about $119 million.

Springfield Update

The Illinois Board of Higher Education instructed universities to ask for a 10 percent increase in state appropriations compared to what was received last year.

In Pritzker’s budget address, universities are expected to receive a 5 percent increase, but Glassman said that is still 5 percent less than what was received in 2015 before the start of the budget impasse.

Glassman said when he talked to the governor, he told him he wanted universities to be back to where they were in 2015 or above that but there is not enough revenue to do that in one year. Instead the plan is to grow incrementally over the course of a few years.

“It’s been a long time since we saw anybody proposing an increase, so that is a positive thing,” Glassman said.

In Pritzker’s budget address there is also a pool of set $150 million for universities to tap into for deferred maintenance.

In addition to that the budget included an addition $50 million for the Monetary Award Program grants and an additional $10 million for AIM HIGH grants.

“When I look at that budget it makes me feel like we have an administration that sees higher education as an important element of the state,” Glassman said. “To be going in the right direction is progress … I’m grateful.”

But Glassman said he is not guaranteeing that this is what the university will receive.

By May 31 the general assembly is supposed to reach an agreement on a balanced budget, and the governor has the ability to approve it, veto it or do a line item veto. Then by July 1 the fiscal year starts.

“So when I tell you what the governor has in his budget may or may not have anything to do with reality come (the start of the fiscal year),” Glassman said. “So, I don’t want you to become overly excited or overly pessimistic as the case may be.”

Glassman said.

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