Grim news dominates last UC meeting

By Brian Slupski

The University Council’s last meeting of 1991 began with some grim announcements made by NIU President John La Tourette.

The remarks were distressing because they concerned the fiscal status of the state budget. The figures given at the December 11 meeting illustrate how perilous the state’s situation is. At the end of October, the state’s general revenue fund had $140,000, while the desired balance was $200 million, which equals a short fall of $199,860,000.

It was also reported that the state had some $350 million in unpaid bills, and the figure was growing.

La Tourette said there was real concern about the viability of the budget passed this summer and the ability of the state to generate revenues to support that budget for the rest of the year.

At the meeting, he said NIU is committed to do something about the salary offset situation, but clearly it will depend upon the size of any future budget recision. Gov. Jim Edgar has called for a 3 percent reduction.

UC member David Ripley commented on the cuts and sacrifices being made by faculty. “Substantial financial sacrifice is being made by all of the faculty and staff of our university,” he said.

“Requests for cost_savings and increased efficiency in our public universities have occurred and it is essential that there be no ‘sacred cow’,” he added.

Ripley said nothing we are now doing should remain unexamined or unquestioned. “Unilateral sacrifice on the part of faculty and staff is unacceptable,” he said.

The faculty was dealt another blow when council member Alan Voelker reported the early retirement proposal for university employees was at an ‘impasse.’ He said it is apparent that there will be less savings than expected from the original five plus five early retirement plan which was offered to other state employees last year.

Consequently, talk of extending the plan to university employees has stalled.