Baker On Budget: Higher Education 'United'

Nov 12, 2015

University of Illinois trustees are scheduled to vote Thursday on a resolution urging state lawmakers to agree on a budget. The impasse has been weighing on the minds of many public university leaders.

Altgeld Hall at Northern Illinois University
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Illinois has been without a budget since July, putting pressure on the state's universities to dip into cash reserves. It also worries students who rely on MAP grants.

Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker says he has made several trips to Springfield, and joins other university leaders in keeping a close eye on lawmakers and the governor.

"I know they’re working in the background trying to figure that out. I’m hopeful that after the first of the calendar year, when they come back into full session and only a simple majority is needed for passage of a budget, that we’ll see a lot of progress there. So I’m hopeful."

Baker recently told the campus community the school will extend the MAP credit to qualifying students in the spring semester should the state budget stalemate extend beyond the first of the calendar year.

"The higher education community’s united. We’ve been visiting with the governor and legislators as a team of presidents, both within the four-year sector, as well as the community colleges. And so, we really all are on the same page. We need capital budgets, we need operating budgets, [and] we need to rebuild the confidence of the people of the state that we’re going to invest in higher education that’s so critical for our future."

State funding accounts for nearly 20 percent of NIU’s overall operating budget.