UI allots $314.7 million for renovations

By Zihan Wang, Staff writer

University of Illinois System President Timothy Killeen testified in support of the priorities contained in the UI capital request at the House Appropriations Committee hearing on Feb. 28 regarding the higher education budget request for fiscal year 2020.

Except the system-wide need for repair and renovation, the budget for the University will be used for improvements and renovations on the Math/Statistics/Data Science Collaboration Facility. Part of the budget will be used for the School of Art and Design Thinking and Learning Addition, including the consolidation of multiple facilities.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved the higher education budget request for fiscal year 2020 in December.

Thomas Hardy, executive director of the Office for University Relations, said in an email the UI System and its three universities are presently engaged in advocating for additional appropriations and capital funding in Springfield.

According to a capital program request for fiscal year 2020 document provided by Hardy, the UI System requested a capital budget of $722 million for the needs of repair and renovation, innovation and workforce development and academic libraries. The Champaign-Urbana campus will receive $314.7 million.

The Illinois General Assembly has a May 31 deadline for completing its spring legislative work which includes a fiscal 2020 budget for the entire state.

“Typically the source of funds for major capital projects such as these include a mix of state funds, university institutional funds, donor funds, etc.,” Hardy said. “That’s why it is critical to have a fiscal 2020 capital projects program passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.”

Alan Phillips, deputy director for fiscal affairs of IBHE, said there are two kinds of budgets: the capital budget for projects including construction, repairments and maintenance needs and the operating budget for daily operation in the universities.

Phillips said the budget process normally started in the winter the past year. The board will take into consideration the request from the universities, and it will provide budget recommendations to the governor’s office. It will then send an adjusted budget recommendation to the legislatures.

Phillips said in the last year, Gov. J. B. Pritzker appropriated money for budgets for public universities because some universities around Illinois have to use the money for operating budgets for capital needs, including repairing and maintenance needs.

There is a significant increase in the capital budget this year than before, Phillips said. He said in 2010, the state was running into financial difficulties, and the legislatures at that time did not want to support the increase in capital budget because there had been an existing large debt for Illinois. The operating budget is funded by taxes, but the capital budget is funded by selling bonds to pay for the needs.

Phillips said there was a priority to using the capital budget in state for transportation needs, including building and repairing roads and bridges around the state, and then using the money for the higher education capital budget needs.

“The good news is for (the) first time in a number of years, higher education and public universities are receiving more money than they (received) last year, and we certainly also expected to receive additional capital money,” Phillips said. “That is certainly good for higher education.”

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