INA – Rend Lake College learned Wednesday evening that the Governor’s office will release the final payment to community colleges for FY2008. The decision means $25.4 million to the state community college system and as much as $500,000 to $600,000 for operations at RLC.
“This is absolutely wonderful news,” said RLC President Mark S. Kern. “At this stage of the game, there is no adjustment we could have made. It would have had to come right out of our fund balance, which would have been devastating.”
RLC Vice President of Finance and Administration Larry West pointed out that salaries and contractual obligations account for nearly the entire operating budget at the college.
“The bottom line is that when you have a budget 85 to 90 percent locked into personnel and contractual services, you have very little discretionary spending,” West said. “We would have had to have used our cash reserves, which would have put the college in a precarious situation in terms of liquidity. We only have x amount of dollars that is actual cash. We are just glad the Governor realizes the value of the community college system and released the funds.”
West said the word of a possible stop on $25 million in June funding for the Illinois community college system was passed down from the Governor’s office in April.
‘“This is fantastic news,” he said of the Governor’s decision to not stop payment.
Kern said ensuring community colleges received their final payment from the state was one of the main things community college trustees and presidents lobbied for at their annual lobby day recently in Springfield.
“We had been told it was about a 50/50 chance whether we were going to get our June funding from the state,” he said. “When you get to the end of the year in May, you can’t cut costs. You have to deficit spend for the year, which comes out of your fund balance.”
In a release on Wednesday, Illinois Community College Board President and CEO Geoffrey Obrzut, along with Chairman Guy Alongi, stated, “We ... want to acknowledge the efforts of all those in our system who worked so hard in contacting their legislators and the Governor’s office, especially Mike Monaghan and the [Illinois Community College Trustees Association], [and] Terry Bruce and the Presidents Council, in making the leaders aware of the dire position our colleges would have faced without the funds.
Additional supporters mentioned by Alongi and Obrzut in the release include Wayne Watson at the City Colleges of Chicago, Jerry Weber of Kankakee Community College and the Rev. Jesse Jackson who, along with Weber, discussed the need for funding on the May 24 Rainbow PUSH Coalition broadcast. Jackson also publicized funding need during a segment on a local NBC affiliate and said he will do so again on a Rainbow PUSH Coalition broadcast next weekend, according to their release.
Reports have stated RLC will receive a final payment of more than $600,000. Kern and West said it is more like $510,000. According to reports, the news means nearly $1.1 million to John A. Logan College, more than $400,000 to Shawnee Community College, more than $475,000 to Southeastern Illinois College, and more than $780,000 to Kaskaskia College.