U of Illinois makes cuts while it waits for state budget

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois says it has cut nearly $24 million in expenses while it waits to find out how much money it will receive from the state this year.

The university said the money was cut from data processing and building maintenance. Christophe Pierre, vice president for academic affairs, said students were prioritized in the decisions.

"It's not something we're happy to do, but we feel that it's something that won't harm students as much," Pierre told the (Champaign) News-Gazette.

The money is a small fraction of the school's $5.6 billion annual operating budget or the $209 million Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed cutting from the school's state appropriation. Rauner proposed 31.5 percent cuts for all state universities, while the General Assembly countered with a proposed 8 percent cut.

Public universities and other state-funded institutions in Illinois now wait for the governor and lawmakers to agree on a state budget. A budget for the current fiscal year was due July 1, but the two sides can't agree on spending plans.

The University of Illinois said $12.8 million in the announced cuts were meant for its information technology operating system used for student accounts, human resources and business functions. The cut means critical system upgrades will be postponed, the university said.

"It's going to be not quite as updated as before. Our systems may not be as fast as they could be. The service they provide may not be as good as faculty and staff would expect," Pierre said. "But it's an effort to protect students."

According to the university, cuts also include $11 million meant to fund "critical deferred maintenance projects" on its three campuses, including for energy sustainability and renovating aging facilities.