Sunday, February 28, 2016

How long will the impasse last?

Last week, Chicago State University sent out letters to all 900 staff, including about 300 tenured faculty, of a notice of termination in case the Illinois legislature was not able to pass a budget that would be approved by Gov. Bruce Rauner. CSU seems to be the first casualty of the unprecedented standoff in Springfield that has sent Illinois into an even deeper economic hole than before. Combined with the veto to a bill to maintain MAP funding, Gov. Rauner has made it clear that he is willing to fight the long fight to meet the plans based on which he defeated Pat Quinn over a year back.

There are several things wrong. For one, it makes absolutely no sense for state universities to run like a corporation unless they can meet almost all of their requirement like a corporation i.e., by itself. CSU has a full-time spokesperson, a large bureaucracy, and several systems that should simply not be necessary to run a university, particularly given that it is not really a large research or technical institution. And despite its stellar contribution to Illinois society, the Governor is right when he says that the state simply cannot afford it any more.

Furthermore, there is a dire need to overhaul the way money is spent in Illinois (spent legally, at least). There must be cuts and compromises to make up for the fiscal sins of the past - while the idea of a big government that cares for everyone is great, in reality it will sink everybody. Democratic legislators need to understand that borrowings and accounting tricks will not save Illinois. Gov. Rauner's plans to get the economy moving again will, and they should back him by passing an honest spending bill. The people of Illinois deserve to know the truth about the state of their economy, so that they can start reconstructing. Make no mistake about it - Illinois has everything it needs to come back, provided it can make hard choices.

And the same goes for CSU. 

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