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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.

WIU Hopeful for CPA Money

Courtesy WIU
An artist's drawing of the proposed Center for Performing Arts

Western Illinois University continues to bend the ears of state leaders regarding a major construction project planned for the Macomb campus: the Center for Performing Arts.

Jeanette Malafa, WIU’s Assistant to the President for Governmental Relations, said the university is ready to build the CPA as soon as the state is ready to pay for it.

She said she “hammers” on the topic all the time, including when Governor Bruce Rauner toured the Macomb campus on June 1.

“We’re like, ‘This is the area where we’re going to build the Center for Performing Arts.  There is the parking lot already built,’” Malafa said.  “So he heard it multiple times coming out of my mouth during that tour.”

Western held a groundbreaking ceremony for the building in April 2011. Since then, the only thing that’s gone up is the price.

In 2011 the estimated cost was $68 million.

Malafa said the state’s Capital Development Board now projects it will cost around $89 million.  

A university spokesperson said the reappropriation for the project is included in the state’s budget for Fiscal Year ‘19, which begins July 1, 2018.  However, the spokesperson added, “…the project is not funded until funds are released from the Capital Development Board and allocated to this specific project.”

Rich is TSPR's News Director.