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The University of Illinois System today has 258 percent more employees and its annual budget is 389 percent higher than it was 45 years ago, in inflation-adjusted dollars.

But its enrollment has only grown 28 percent over the same period, according to analysis by Local Government Information Services (LGIS), which publishes the Chambana Sun.

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Andrew Szakmary

And in other news, real GDP in the United States increased 246% over the 45 year interval from 1971 to 2016. One more thing: does the U of I budget include contributions to SURS? If so, that alone could account for its budget growing somewhat faster than GDP. I bet back in 1971 the university’s pension contribution was minimal as the state deliberately underfunded the system, while it is extremely high now as the state is forced to make up for the resulting shortfall.


You’re right. Illinois used to fund SURS (and other pension funds) on a pay-as-you-go method in the 1970’s. Ironically, one of the governors responsible for that under funding, Dan Walker, received endorsements from both teacher unions at the time. But governors consistently pumped higher ed funding instead into operating expenses, namely professor salaries. So taxpayers have been and will be paying twice.

Even 40 years ago, pension fund leaders knew of the deficits and suggested one obvious solution to what they called a glaring loophole: taxing retirement income. We all know what happened there…

In theory, our economic statistics try to adjust for quality improvements over time, when estimating the “cost of living.” Hmm.

Jim Palermo

This article is very brief and lacking in detail, but the first question that comes to my mind is how the expansion of the University of Illinois Medical system contributed to the budget and headcount growth? If it is a significant contributor, closer analysis would be appropriate.