An Open Letter On The Illinois Budget Battles

An Open Letter to Illinois Politicians on the Budget Battles:

My university last year asked for furloughs, which cost me $2,500, and it has recently requested another series of furloughs this spring. The reason, according to my union, is that the university spent $3.5 million for MAP grants in the fall, which had been promised to students by the State of Illinois but were never provided, and another $3.1. million in the spring.

My co-workers and I, in other words, have been asked again to accept pay cuts to compensate for broken promises by the State of Illinois. Moreover, we’ve been asked to cover these costs at a time, we were told, that the State of Illinois has reduced its support of public university education by 54% from 2008-2015, which is the second largest reduction in the nation, and 70% over the past two years.

These conditions are the background for my decisions about my own kids’ college educations, which commence this fall. I always thought, since accepting a substantial salary reduction for an Illinois public university professorship in 2002, that I’d send my kids to Illinois public universities because I believe in public education, and Illinois universities. However, I struggle to sustain this belief when I see how little regard for these institutions Illinois politicians seem to have.

I appreciate the complexity of the issues in this state budget battle. At the same time, I’m concerned about the long-term damage it is doing to Illinois residents and this potentially great state. I think you have a duty to find better ways to fight this fight, ones that don’t have such widespread collateral damage.

Otherwise, I worry that you might win some battles but lose the war.

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