Dem committee's budget would give UI 0.1 percent increase
SPRINGFIELD — Although the state higher education budget would increase 2.8 percent next year under a budget House Democrats approved in committee Wednesday, the increase to the University of Illinois would be about one-tenth of 1 percent.
Most new higher education spending would go to the expansion of the Monetary Award Program, a financial aid program for needy students. MAP would get about $51 million of the additional $56 million set aside for higher education, according to Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, chair of the House Higher Education-Appropriations Committee.
Overall the UI would get about $74,000 more in the House budget, Dunkin said.
And there's no guarantee that the budget approved Wednesday by the House committee will go into effect. It depends on the passage of a bill making permanent a 5 percent income tax enacted in 2011. The higher income tax will drop to 3.75 percent on Dec. 31 unless the Legislature extends it.
Even Dunkin wasn't willing to commit to voting for it.
"I don't know exactly. Can't say that," he said.
Republicans on the committee voted against the appropriation, which now goes to the House floor. They complained that they weren't involved in the budget negotiations.
"There was no discussion between the Republican and Democratic members of this committee as far as proceeding with these numbers," said Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb.
The Republicans also griped that the higher education increase wasn't big enough.
"My point is that it's a small amount of increase versus a total budget that doesn't indicate that education is a priority," said Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Sycamore, who said the overall Democratic-sponsored budget appeared to increase by $4 billion. "If we have additional revenue why aren't we putting it into higher education and elementary and secondary education?"
The original 5 percent income tax increase passed with only Democratic votes, and it's assumed that will have to be the case again this year with the effort to extend it.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said Wednesday that his strategy to pass the income tax is to pass the budget first, building pressure for the tax increase.
"We're working our roll call, and our purpose in advancing the budget first is to set the bar against which people work to convince people to vote for the revenue," he said Wednesday.