The president of Illinois State University said Thursday's passage of a state budget is a welcome relief. Larry Dietz said more work remains to be done, but at least there is a way forward.
"It makes life a lot easier in terms of the planning. Frankly we have felt that nobody cares much about education because there has been no scheme and no plan to fund it," said Dietz.
Dietz said the spending plan approved by the Illinois House and Senate cuts ISU's state support another $7 million from the 2015 level of $74 million. That is, Dietz said, still better than the 70 percent funding cut during the last two years without a budget.
The state has also agreed to fund Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for students.
Still unknown, Dietz said, is the impact of some initiatives to transfer costs from the state to universities, among them some pension expenses.
Dietz said he is unsure whether ISU will be able to rehire some of the 120-plus jobs left vacant during the budget standoff.
"Too early to say, but I kind of doubt that. We kind of dug a pretty big hole in some areas during the last two years without a budget. It's going to be well into the fall before we really know," said Dietz.
Dietz said no one can really declare victory with this budget agreement.
He said he can't remember the last time the state appropriation was so low for universities.
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