On April 8, Senate Republican lawmakers attended a joint hearing of the Appropriations I and II Committees at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC), focusing on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016.
State Senators David Luechtefeld (R-Okawville), Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), and Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) all represent areas that are affected heavily by Illinois’ public university system. During the hearing they emphasized that the Governor’s budget proposal was just the first step on the path to the final budget, but stressed that spending reductions and reforms will be necessary if the state is to fill an anticipated $6 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year.
The lawmakers questioned panelists—including university administrators, representatives from the medical community, human service providers and local government officials—about their expenses relating to workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and other “costs of doing business,” which often create a significant financial burden for the average Illinois employer. The lawmakers pointed to these areas as places where significant savings could be realized, and panelists who testified agreed that it would certainly improve their bottom line if the cost of doing business in Illinois was reduced.
SIUC alone pays millions each year in workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance costs, expenses that redirect resources away from the university’s course offerings and student services. The service providers in attendance also mentioned that grant funding cuts could be less severe if certain business reforms were undertaken in order to improve Illinois’ fiscal condition.