Northeastern Illinois University to cut about 180 jobs as state budget woes drag on

The struggling Northeastern Illinois University will eliminate about 180 full-time jobs in the coming weeks, the latest fallout from a nearly two-year state budget impasse that has drastically reduced funding for state public universities, officials announced Tuesday.

About 130 civil service employees and 50 administrative professionals will receive layoff notices from the Chicago school within the next six to seven weeks, interim President Richard Helldobler said, cutting about one-fourth of the staffing in both categories.

Helldobler said the move is expected to save about $9 million through September, helping to reduce a $10.8 million shortfall.

The layoffs are the most draconian cut yet for the Northwest Side university, which has had to implement two campus shutdowns, expand furloughs and cut student jobs this year to try to continue operations through June, the end of the fiscal year.

NEIU serves about 10,000 students, many of them low-income and first-generation college students.

“We’ve been pushed to our limits,” Helldobler said at a news conference. “It has been devastating, and sadly today the devastation increases.”

Throughout the nearly two-year budget battle, Illinois’ public universities have received state funding only through two stop-gap bills endorsed last summer.

Together, those emergency measures provided universities around 80 percent of a typical year’s funding, but schools have had to try to stretch those dollars over 23 months.

Northeastern, for example, received about $30.2 million in state money for the past two years, compared with the $37 million it received in 2015, the most recent year for regular funding.

“If I had to give a grade to Springfield for the handling of our state’s budget, they’d get an ‘F,'” Helldobler said. “Northeastern is counting on lawmakers to do the right thing for our students, our state and our economy by passing a budget that includes…

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