By Craig Chamberlain Kenneth Andersen, chair of the Urbana-Champaign Senate's Budget Committee, issued on Monday what is becoming an annual call by the committee for letters to the governor to support the university's budget request for the coming fiscal year. Faculty and staff members, students, parents, and others who support the university have about three weeks to make a difference, Andersen said, and he cited proof that their effort would pay off. "Two years ago, the governor himself commented that his support for this university was attributable, in part, to the number of letters he received from this campus," Andersen said. "If the faculty and student body were to place something like 500 letters on the desk of the governor in the next three weeks, I will argue that you will have a significant impact on the probability of support for this campus and this university." Andersen told senators that it is important to write the governor now because the experience of recent years shows that the governor will signal to the Illinois Board of Higher Education during that time what he is willing to support. The board's recommended budget, due out just before Thanksgiving, likely will be what Edgar will recommend to the General Assembly and what will likely be passed. Andersen's call for letters was part of a Budget Committee resolution on the fiscal year 1997 budget, the most significant business in a short, one-hour senate meeting. Andersen noted that the last two state budgets were a positive reversal from the previous four years, when state support for salaries averaged 0.625 percent per year. But the damage from that period and before it has not been repaired, he said. UI faculty salaries are near the bottom relative to peer institutions, and 170 faculty positions have been lost since 1990. The university's budget request to the Illinois Board of Higher Education calls for an increase of 6.21 percent over the current fiscal year, including money for restoring faculty numbers and a 4.5 percent increase in faculty and staff salaries. The Budget Committee's resolution, passed unanimously by the senate, commends the governor and legislature for their support of the university in adopting the fiscal year 1996 budget. It also, however, "decries the deficiencies in support that have worsened in recent years," and calls upon the IBHE, the governor and the state legislature to fully fund the fiscal year 1997 request. Included in the senate packet with the Budget Committee's resolution was material that could be cited by letter writers. Andersen asked senators to pass the material on and get others involved in the campaign.