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The "Crisis of Confidence" series is a multi-year effort by the Tri States Public Radio to document the impact the two-year state budget impasse had on Western Illinois University and the ongoing recovery efforts at WIU. State support for public higher education institutions has been steadily declining in Illinois for more than a decade. But the issue was compounded, during the state's historic two-year budget impasse during Fiscal Years '16 and '17 which left public colleges and universities with little state financial support. At Western Illinois University, that drastic cut in state appropriations resulted in significant budget cuts, employee furloughs, and layoffs.

Center for Performing Arts Gets Green Light

Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Western Illinois University's Center for Performing Arts project is moving forward despite Governor Bruce Rauner's freeze on all non-essential state spending.

WIU Budget Director Matt Bierman said construction is slated to begin late spring or early summer.

 Bierman said the Illinois Capital Development Board is overseeing the project because it is funded with state money.

“The [Capital Development Board] pays the bills, they pay the contractor. The contract that’s held with the construction firm is not held by the university, it’s held by the state Capital Development Board group. So it’s their project, not our project even though it’s happening on our campus,” Bierman said. 

Construction bids for the Center will be opened next week.

"At this point they have sent out the request for bids and companies are expected to turn those in shortly," Bierman said.

Former Governor Pat Quinn released $60 million worth of state funds in April of last year to build the Center. Bierman said the money is sitting in the Capital Development Boards’ bank account.

“We’ve got no indication they will pull back on this," Bierman said.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.