Monday, January 18, 2010

U of Illinois President Ikenberry: ‘we may in fact have to do some layoffs’ | The Daily Illini

Ikenberry: ‘we may in fact have to do some layoffs’ | The Daily Illini: "DI: What is the worse case scenario for the University right now for the budget crisis? Will there be any consolidation or layoffs in any academic or administrative units?

SI: Yes, there will be."

Oh, yes. There will be. The state of Illinois is insolvent, and there has been no adult supervision for the state legislature, in the form of a sane and honest governor, since...who knows when...12 years? First the crook Ryan, then the crook and lunatic Blagojevich, and now the airhead do-gooder Quinn. The state is now in the process of destroying the University of Illinois system. And I am not exaggerating. The situation will be so bad in a few months that entire departments will be eliminated and faculty positions along with them. You can say what you want about rebuilding, but there is no chance of this state ever (in the remotely forseeable future) being able to get out from under its existing obligations to fund rebuilding of the U of I. To take only one crisis, the State of Illinois has systematically, over many years, underfunded its public pension plans in the amount of $80 billion dollars.

Eighty. Billion. Dollars.

And despite not making those payments, and despite not paying the U of I $400 billion dollars, and despite not paying doctors and social service agencies and despite ignoring crumbling infrastructure, and a host of other such bogus and shortsighted money-saving policies...the State of Illinois is running a budget deficit this year of $13 billion.

So, once this system is reduced to a shadow of itself, which will have happened by a year from now, there will never be the resources to restore it. It would take a national economic boom the likes of which this country hasn't seen since 1946. And even if there were such a time (which I think would be possible to envision only after smoking a big fat bag of crack), the U of I's reputation will have been wrecked in the academic hiring market forever. If you were a first-rate job candidate, and you were on the market a few years from now, would you go to a university that has just gone through radical downsizing of departments and now promises that, don't worry, your job is safe?

Here's the irony--our tuition revenues are up, and our enrollments are up, and to all appearances the institution is thriving, as long as you don't know about the fiscal nightmare that is unfolding.


DBX said...

The state has not been properly run since Jim Thompson. If you look at the trends in funding institutions and in generally running things sustainably the rot starts in probably 20 years ago -- the sagging decline of higher-ed funding, the putting off of pension payments, the unwillingness to raise revenue to levels seen in other Midwestern states, the unwillingness to move away from defined benefits to a defined contribution pension scheme for all staff, and the decline in support for public infrastructure.

Say what you will about the old-school machine hacks, they at least knew a penny saved is a penny earned. This bunch thinks a penny lost will be replenished by the tooth fairy.

Anonymous said...

But the state employees chose that by going to work for the state.

Hey if you don't like it, then move. Isn't that what Realtors and HOA board members say about the HOAs that the homeowners "chose" to live in?

The state employees can leave - it's their choice, right?

I wonder if Illinois is constitutionally required to fulfill those obligations?

Evan McKenzie said...

The tooth fairy, indeed. That's the mentality they seem to have.

I have been asking why the U of I doesn't just sue the State of Illinois. The funds have been appropriated, and I think it is clear that a writ of mandamus or something could be obtained to force the Comptroller to release the funds. But the answer to that, I have been told, is this: the U of I administration is afraid that such a lawsuit would anger the state legislature and that would hurt us in next year's budget. How's that for a laugher? They stiff us to the tune of 93% of the money they appropriated, and we are afraid about them hurting us worse next year? So there is now talk about a class action against the state by faculty and staff.