IBHE approves new budget for operations

By Suzanne Tomse

A budget recommendation of nearly $112 million for NIU’s operation and grants for fiscal year 1989 was approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education Jan. 5.

Eddie Williams, NIU vice president of finance and planning, said the IBHE’s recommendation represents a 12.6 percent increase over FY88’s budget. He said the IBHE determined its recommendations based on the state getting additional revenues from a tax increase.

“At this point, the IBHE has done its work and evaluation. The recommendations are positive but there remains the whole question of what the legislature will do,” Williams said.

The recommendations include a 10 percent increase for faculty and staff salaries, a 5 percent increase for general operational costs, a nine percent increase for library operations and a 2.4 percent increase for fire protection, Williams said.

“It is a good increase but it barely keeps us competitive with higher education around the nation,” NIU President John LaTourette said. Because NIU received a 4.5 percent decrease in funding this year, the 12.6 percent increase actually amounts to less than 6.3 percent per year, he said.

A resolution calling for the approval of an increase in the state income tax rate also was passed by the IBHE. The resolution will be sent to Gov. James Thompson and the Illinois General Assembly.

“It is clear that Illinois must become more competitive economically and higher education has a vital role in helping the state to do so. But the state is not making the necessary investment in its colleges and universities, ” IBHE Executive Director Richard Wagner said.

LaTourette said, “I certainly think that if some type of tax increase does not go through, tuition might be raised.” He said other alternatives NIU might have to take if a tax increase does not pass include reducing enrollment further or letting quality decline.

Illinois is in the bottom 20 percent in terms of support for higher education, LaTourette said. “I think that is a disgrace. If this continues, the fine system of higher education in our country will be lost. We are at the threshold of really losing our educational heritage,” he said.

LaTourette said although tuition and room and board at NIU is $1600 less than the national average of $5700, the amount of state support is also at the lowest possible level.