La Tourette questions state allocation

By Eric Krol

NIU President John La Tourette said Thursday the way the state allocates money prevented NIU from adding classes at the beginning of the semester.

La Tourette, speaking at the Board of Regents meeting at Illinois State University at Normal, said NIU collects tuition and fees from students but cannot spend the money right away.

Instead, the money goes directly to the state coffers and NIU has to wait for state allocations, La Tourette said.

As a result, NIU never knows how much money it can set aside, he added. “In most states, you don’t have to wait for the legislature to appropriate tuition money to use it,” he said.

Tuition and fees generate about 30 percent of NIU’s income, he said.

La Tourette said if NIU knew that a bleak financial year was coming, provisions could have been made and money set aside for teacher salary increases and adding more classes at the beginning of the semester.

Because of an increase in health insurance and no salary increase this year, faculty are facing a decrease in take home pay in January.

Regent Carol Burns commended La Tourette’s observations and suggested he write a letter to the governor.

La Tourette said, “It’ll probably invoke another attack from the Auditor General.”

La Tourette was referring to a controversy over last year’s report on the state audit of NIU. “I was attacked as being wild and woolly,” he said.

NIU Student Regent James Mertes said he found it encouraging La Tourette did not suggest raising tuition as a means of solving NIU’s financial woes.

At the meeting, La Tourette also said NIU has made a prioritized “red alert” and “yellow alert” list of the electrical lines and transformers which are 25 years old and in need of replacement.

Mertes questioned the effects of a power outage during the winter at the residence halls.