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NIU Official Says Governor's Higher Education Budget Falls Short

NIU's Altgeld Hall
Susan Stephens
NIU's Altgeld Hall

Matt Streb, chief of staff to Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman, says Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed allocation for higher education ignores even a minimal 1.9 percent increase requested by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Instead, it keeps cuts made in last summer’s budget deal.

“The [university] presidents,” he said, “including Acting President Freeman, have argued that the institutions in the state should revert to the Fiscal ‘15 year allocation, which was the last year that we had a full budget before FY ’18.”

Streb says schools are open to the governor’s idea to shift some pension and insurance costs to state universities over the next four years.  But right now, he says, there are too many questions about how that would be implemented.

Streb said the proposal has some details on how the shift would be handled in the first year, but it’s unclear what happens after that. He said that makes it difficult to plan for the future.

“The most important thing that we need,” he said, “and I think the universities in this state need, is they need stability, and they need predictability in terms of [their] budgets.”

He said it’s important that legislators see that public education is a public good, and fund it accordingly.

Acting President Freeman heads to Springfield Thursday, Feb. 22, to make the case for increased funding before a state Senate appropriations committee. She’s slated to do the same before a House committee later in the spring.

Guy Stephens produces news stories for the station, and coordinates our online events calendar, PSAs and Arts Calendar announcements. In each of these ways, Guy helps keep our listening community informed about what's going on, whether on a national or local level. Guy's degrees are in music, and he spent a number of years as a classical host on WNIU. In fact, after nearly 20 years with Northern Public Radio, the best description of his job may be "other duties as required."
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