IBHE passes 1991 budget

By Joe Bush and Lisa Daigle

A tuition freeze and a controversial 6 percent faculty salary boost are recommended in the 1991 budget passed by the Illinois Board of Higher Education last week.

The $2.1 billion operating and $412 million capital budgets were up 8.8 and 19 percent, respectively, from fiscal year 1990 appropriations. The budget must be approved by the state legislators before going into effect.

“These are do-able, reasonable recommendations,” IBHE Executive Director Richard Wagner said.

Even so, State Budget Director Robert Mandeville said the spending plan is “not affordable” because the state will not have enough money.

Because of a temporary tax surcharge, tuitions were not increased, a rarity in a decade when Illinois universities raised fees to supplement state support. That support ranked 42nd in the U.S. over the last 10 years, but is ranked fourth over the last two years.

In his budget support speech, University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry said without a 5 percent tuition increase, the state will lose $15 million. Some say that money could be used to retain Illinois’ better professors.

“Speaking not as a board member, but as a parent who has two children in college, I would be more than happy to pay tuition increases to maintain quality education,” said board member Bob English.

National economic forecasters predict that inflation would consume 4.5 to 5 percent of the 6 percent salary hike.

The IBHE’s three-year plan called for $108 million in salary increases for FY91, based on assumptions that state support would keep increasing. However, only $67 million was recommended. The recommendation prompted a letter and a speech from Mitchell Vogler, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers’ Universities Council and University Professionals of Illinois.

Vogler said the budget’s biggest increases were given to areas in which Illinois is quite healthy compared with other states.

The letter said the IBHE’s salary numbers are contrary to its three-year plan and are still too far behind the national median.

The letter suggested that the board take care of the three-year plan figures before increasing capital expenditures and grants to private institutions.

“Even though goals were established by the board probably less than 12 months ago, we can’t even achieve (them),” English said. “Maybe it’s time to revise those goals.”