From WILL - News Headlines -

UI President Satisfied with State Funding Proposal

University of Illinois President Michael Hogan says the state's appropriation to the school in the budget awaiting the governor's signature is 'about as close to total victory' as you can get given the climate in Springfield.

The suggested appropriation is just over $689 million, a reduction of just over one percent over what was originally planned for the U of I. Hogan says administrators once feared a hit as high 10 percent. But he said this doesn't mean the U of I is out of the woods yet, since it's owed nearly half of the current year's appropriations, or just over $310 million.

He said the next step would be looking into raises for faculty and staff.

"I'm very, very happy with the results (of the funding package)," Hogan said. "It puts us in a better position to move forward with our plans to do the first comprehensive compensation adjustment in three years. That was the main thing."

Given the figures from Springfield, Hogan said he's looking at salary adjustments of over two-percent. He said he expects to resume the battle over pension reform soon.

"The bill that was on the table - up to 20-percent of our workforce could have retired - walked right out the door," Hogan said. "And that would have been a big run up on pension costs for the state to begin with, and left us with a real headache in terms of staffing our classes, and fulfilling our research agenda, and probably would have had altogether a long-term negative effect on the state."

He testified recently in Springfield against legislation that would lower pension benefits. That bill was tabled until the fall. Hogan says he might consider his own proposal regarding pensions, but adds that's hard to say without a lot of discussions in advance.

Hogan spoke Tuesday before the U of I Trustees' Audit, Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee.