Signed budget falls short of University requests

By Jonathan Jacobson

The state’s new budget will provide the University of Illinois system with less money than officials expected, and could leave Lincoln Hall renovations on the Urbana campus under-funded.

In Sept. 2006, the University Board of Trustees requested a $101 million increase from the 2007 fiscal year budget. In the Illinois budget signed Thursday, the University received a $13.1 million increase, 12 percent of what the trustees called for.

“When I spoke with people in administration, they weren’t overjoyed,” said state Sen. Mike Frerichs. “They were happy and felt that was the best they could do.”

The total budget of $720.5 million represents a 1.9 percent increase from the 2007 fiscal year budget, but is still $80 million short of matching the University’s 2002 allocation.

University officials are satisfied with the appropriations, said Tom Hardy, University spokesperson.

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“We’ve received exactly what our expectations were in terms of general appropriation,” he said.

The board requested $53.1 million to renovate Lincoln Hall. The governor’s recommended budget, released in March, planned to allocate $55 million to the Lincoln Hall renovation.

The budget devotes $2 million to Lincoln Hall for designing and planning, and it is contingent upon written approval of the new plans from Gov. Blagojevich.

The details of how the state funds will be spent have not been specified yet, but will likely be geared toward design, engineering and architectural planning, Hardy said.

Legislators are expected to begin work on the capital budget to fund projects throughout the state after Labor Day. Though funding for the renovation cannot be taken for granted, Hardy said officials are hopeful more funding will be appropriated at that time.