Thursday, January 29, 2015

Illinois' Hidden Cuts to Higher Education

A work email I sent to all staff on January 16, 2015:

Some of y'all know Illinois' state budget for higher ed has been driving me insane. On paper, it looks like they're spending a lot per student ($9k+ per student), but also have one of the fastest growing higher ed budgets (Up 19 percent since the recession, one of only three states to have increased!).

The y axis here is in thousands by the way, so the FY15 higher ed budget is $4 billion. 

We had heard about most of that increase going to a retirement plan, and even noted so in our Illinois report card, but didn't really know what was going on.

So I went back through eight years of Illinois' state budgets, and found the line items for the retirement plan, and pulled them out of the total higher ed budget. There it is: line 693: 

So let's plot that retirement spending alongside the total spending:

Hm. They definitely seem to correspond in slope don't they? 

So let's see what non-retirement spending looks like:

The non-retirement higher ed spending has actually gone down. It's actually a half a billion dollar cut since 2008!

Here's another way to look at it. The pie is total higher ed spending. 

There's nothing wrong with funding pension plans, particularly to keep promises made to hard working folks. But don't fucking tell me you're spending more to make college more affordable for more students; it's deceitful. And now we know why Illinois has some of then highest tuitions in the country, despite the fact their state support has been increasing.


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