Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 01, 2010

New U of I President Starts His Job, Takes on Challenge of Financial Crisis

On his first day on the job, new U of I President Michael Hogan admits he needs to be brought up to speed on some issues relating to Illinois' financial crisis.

But the 66-year old notes he's been through similar experiences while leading other universities, and thinks strategically about budgets. Hogan says it's a sad fact that the U of I, like other state schools, have to rely less on state funds - and will have look more at tuition, alumni donations, and research to generate revenue. He plans to spend a third of his time raising money.

But the former president of the University of Connecticut also hopes to avoid a second round of furlough days for university faculty and staff. "So my own disposition would be do try to deal with budget issues in different ways than relying on furloughs," said Hogan. "We can't rule them out right now, and I certainly wouldn't want to say anything definitive until I know more. But in principal, we had furlough days at U-Conn and others, and I know from experience they're very, very hard on faculty and staff morale."

Hogan also expects to get questions about his $620,000 dollar salary. He says it's in line with what other Big Ten Presidents receive... and plans to justify it over the next several months. "I think the question to be asked here is over the next year is 'what have I done to earn that salary," said Hogan. "And if I haven't done enough to earn that salary, I'm sure the board will want some adjustment made. And I intend to earn it. And I intend to bring in the university, one way or the other, a substantial amount more than I'm going to be taking out."

Hogan says he isn't sure yet about job cuts as part of a push to save money. But Former U of I President Stanley Ikenberry - who's leading what he calls a 'process redesign', says other cuts are likely.

Hogan also says he'll be do his best to be accessible. "I think it's a big university, even each part of the university, especially the Chicago campus and the Urbana campus are both by themselves, very large," said Hogan. "I think it helps if people know who the president is. I think by being engaged and being visible and being accessible - even one person, the president, maybe more than others, can help make a big university seem smaller. And that would be my goal." He comes to Illinois after being president of the University of Connecticut.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 01, 2010

Gov. Quinn Approves Budget with Deep Spending Cuts, Unpaid Bills

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a new Illinois budget that will cut spending in many areas and allow the state's pile of unpaid bills to climb even higher.

The Chicago Democrat says he's doing his best to protect government services that help the economy, schools, health and public safety.

Rather than balance the budget, lawmakers voted to give Quinn special authority over spending. That means he'll decide which programs are slashed, which bills will go unpaid and which special funds will be raided.

Quinn said Thursday that he's using this authority to cut $1.4 billion in spending.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

CU Mass Transit Board Approved FY 2011 Budget

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District starts a new fiscal year Thursday with some uncertainty. The MTD Board approved a $36 million budget for F-Y 2011 on Wednesday-- with nearly two thirds of that funding coming from the state. But managing director Bill Volk says they don't know if Governor Quinn will reduce that state funding as part of budget cuts he's announcing Thursday morning.

"Well, we've heard nothing to the contrary (to full funding) at this point", said Volk, prior to Wednesday's CUMTD Board meeting. "But our full appropriation is in both the (Illinois) House and Senate versions, and the approved budget. So we'll just have to wait and see what the governor has to say."

Volk says the CU-MTD has put contingency plans in place, in case their state funding is cut. He says, for example, if state funding to the agency is cut by 10%, or $2 million, the reduction would come out of their Capital Expenditures budget, and NOT out of Operations.

At the same time, the CU Mass Transit District has yet to receive the $4 million the state had allocated to them for the 4th quarter of the fiscal year that ended Wednesday. Volk says the transit agency will use reserve funds and a line of credit to get by until that money arrives.

Meanwhile, the local revenue that makes up the rest of the CU-MTD's budget is taking a hit. Volk says the soft economy has resulted in lower property tax revenues. And he says the CU-MTD may have to seek an increase in the property tax levy.

"We would expect in our levy this year to maybe propose a 4% increase," says Volk. "But that would be the maximum, and it actually will probably end up lower than that."

Volk says the CU-MTD will likely annex additional territory in 2012. Areas that could be annexed include new sections of the Stone Creek subdivision in southeast Urbana, and the Apollo industrial subdivision on the north end of Champaign. But Volk says property tax revenue from newly annexed areas would not be available to the transit district until 2012.

The CU-MTD also lost an estimated $150,000 in the fiscal year just ended, due to its popular $60 annual passes. Volk says the passes have sold well since the price was lowered by nearly 75%. At the same time, he says CU-MTD ridership is up roughly 2%, at a time when public transit use is declining nationwide.

Categories: Economics, Transportation

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

Vermilion County Health Dept Makes Further Cuts, Leaving A Minimum of Services

The past six months have seen Vermilion County's Health Department reduced to providing just a handful of services.

The transition to a minimum federally-certified facility means the department now offers only immunizations, emergency planning, environmental health, and the Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC program. Wednesday was the last day for the retiring Administrator Steve Laker, who's seen his staff reduced from 74 to 30 since the start of the year due to dwindling state funds. The department is still owed $600,000, and still has to pay back Vermilion County for a $300,000 loan. It also started furlough days a month ago, operating Monday thru Thursday. Laker says walk-in clinics for sexually transmitted disease, and family planning programs will be missed the most. "That's going to have a devestating effect on people," said Laker. "As far as real economic effects and perhaps social and financial effects down the road, due to unwanted pregancies. I can't send out a memo saying 'folks, it's a good idea to cease your sexual activities because you no longer have access to family planning services. I know it's not going to work."

Laker says Aunt Martha's Health Center in Danville is expected to pick up about half of what his department provided for family planning. But the federally-funded facility's director of health operations, Alice Sartore, says no one should be turned away, despite the limits of federal grant dollars. "Because just as any other grant-funded services, we know that our grant never covers the cost of the services." said Sartore. "But our adminstration here at Aunt Martha's is really in tune with the needs of all of the communities in which we operate community health centers." Aunt Martha's is based in suburban Chicago, and operates 18 locations throughout the state. Laker says he's been frustrated that he can't find a phone number for the Danville office. Sartore says the facility offers a toll-free number for all its clients, and those appointments with new ones in Vermilion County will start up in about two weeks. That phone number is 1-877-692-8686.

Meanwhile, Vermilion County's Health Department has hired a new administrator to replace Laker. Shirley Hicks has been with the department since 1985.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

Delta to Leave Champaign Area’s Willard Airport at End of August

An airline's decision to leave the Champaign area's Willard Airport leaves only one airline serving the facility.

It also leaves Willard's manager wondering why Delta Air Lines plans to end its three daily flights to and from Detroit August 31. Steve Wanzek says he was shocked at Delta's phone call Wednesday afternoon mentioning the decision.

"It's been three weeks since they replaced the Saab turboprops with regional jets and added an extra flight," Wanzek said, hours after the call. "I thought we were headed in the right direction, and the feedback we were getting from the Delta desk people downstairs was that they were excited because passenger count had gone up."

Northwest Airlink flights between Willard and Detroit were rebadged with the Delta Express name last year as the two airlines merged. Mesaba Airlines operated the planes. The exit will leave only American Eagle at Willard, but Wanzek says American is a much more stable presence because Willard hosts a maintenance hub for their regional jets.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

Local Boy Scout Council Facing Economic Woes with Other Non-Profits

A surprise windfall from the United Way of Champaign County won't keep the local Boy Scouts organization from ending the fiscal year in the red.

The executive of the Prairielands Council says they've raised about $170,000, but its 2010 goal was $225,000. Tim Manard says donations from families involved in Scouting are especially worrisome.

"We ask our families to be part of that campaign since they're getting the direct benefit of scouting," Manard said. "And we saw that they're having to make some tough choices at home, and that's having an impact on what we're able to do."

This week the United Way announced a surplus in its own fundraising campaign. Manard says that will mean an extra five thousand dollar donation to the Boy Scouts to fund more scholarships for Scouts wanting to attend summer camp. He says even with staff and program cuts over the past two years, the organization has made summer camp a priority for its 5,000 Scouts in 9 Illinois and Indiana counties.

Categories: Community, Economics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

University Is $130 Million Ahead of Where it Stood Six Months Ago

The state has come through with some last-minute funds for the University of Illinois as the fiscal year draws to a close.

That includes a payment of about $30 million reported Tuesday by Chief Financial Officer Walter Knorr. U of I Interim President Stanley Ikenberry says that brings the state's backlog of payments to about $295-million, when it was more than $430 million back on December 31st. Ikenberry says while Illinois still needs to address its financial crisis as soon as possible - the U of I is getting more orderly state payments, and that's a surprise. But he says university staff has done everything it can to receive those funds.

"Our finance people have been unrelenting in their telephone calls to the comptroller's office to seek the payment of the bills," said Ikenberry. "..and to remind them that we're out here living from hand to mouth, and that we need the payment of those receivables." Ikenberry will step down from the role of interim president this week, turning over the office to new President Michael Hogan. The 75-year old has served as interim president since January, and was U of I President from 1979 to 1995.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

Green Camp Puts on Oil Spill Simulation

The oil spill along the Gulf of Mexico is spreading. It's already crept to the coastlines of Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama, and it's continuing to move forward. A group of young kids in Savoy met last week to talk about the spill as part of a week-long Green Camp. They took part in a simulation of the oil spill, and shared their ideas about containing the spill. Then John Warren Kindt, a professor of business and legal policy at the University of Illinois, talks about the future of offshore drilling. Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers reports.

Download mp3 file
Categories: Business, Environment

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 30, 2010

U of I Interim President Ikenberry Reflects, Looks Ahead

A change at the top doesn't mean University of Illinois Interim President Stanley Ikenberry is retiring just yet. He served in the office the last six months, and was U of I President from 1979 to 1995. The 75-year old Ikenberry will now see to it that a working group follows through with a series of consolidations and other cost-cutting moves. He'll report on the team's progress to new President Michael Hogan, who starts his job Thursday.

Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert talked with Ikenberry about that role, and other challenges he foresees in the months ahead:

Download mp3 file

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2010

Agencies Brace for Cuts in State Budget

State agencies and organizations are waiting for details on next year's Illinois state budget, which Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign on Wednesday or Thursday. A group representing people with disabilities is bracing for the possibility its programs will take a hit.

The Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities is worried the governor will slash funding for home and community care programs.

Tyler McHaley says he's enrolled in the home services program. He fears cutbacks will mean he...as well as other people with developmental disabilities ... will get less help.

"The cuts will mean fewer hours in terms of having meals prepared for us, to go outside the home, for laundry....all the things that everyone takes for granted are being cut for us,", says McHaley.

McHaley says it could also mean providers may lose their jobs.

Nellie Logan is a home care assistant for the elderly in Springfield. She says she stops by elderly and disabled people's homes to help out with laundry and dishes.

"They're not going to be able to stay and be able to function as they need to be, as they want to be," says Logan. "And if these people have to go into nursing homes, it's going to cost the state a hell of a lot more than paying me to come help these people."

Logan says she doesn't think she'll lose her job because of job cuts ... but says lawmakers need to understand ... that people...many of whom can't live on their own ...are at the mercy of state government.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services, which oversees the programs, didn't want to comment on any possible cuts and says the agency is waiting to hear from the Governor.

Governor Quinn plans to discuss his budget plans during a 10:30 AM Chicago news conference on Thursday. Quinn has said he'll try to protect education, public safety and human services as much as possible. But he says because the General Assembly failed to approve new revenues, he has no choice but to cut the budget.

Categories: Government, Politics

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