State funding bill has no money for higher ed

State funding bill has no money for higher ed

SPRINGFIELD — A bill containing money for local governments, 911 services, lottery payments and a host of other programs and functions cleared the Illinois House Wednesday.

But there is still no operating assistance for public higher education, which has gone without any state funding for the fiscal year that began on July 1.

And there doesn't appear to be any cause for any optimism.

Last month, Parkland College President Tom Ramage said he and other higher education officials had been told privately to prepare for a state budget without any funding for colleges and universities this fiscal year.

Asked Wednesday about that possibility, Gov. Bruce Rauner said, "I don't want to speculate. I hope not."

At a news conference outside his Capitol office, the governor recounted his support for elementary and secondary education, but said little about the state's colleges and universities.

"Higher education is very important and I want to be very supportive of education. Education should be the single-highest priority for our state spending," he said. "Schools should be our Number 1 priority. I want to support higher ed more but it's going to take some compromises to get that done. I'd like to get it done soon."

Rauner's original budget proposal, made about nine months ago, called for a 31 percent cut in assistance to higher education in the current fiscal year.

State Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, a member of the House Republican leadership team, said Wednesday, "I would certainly hold out very high hopes that when the budget impasse is settled that there will be higher education funding."

"I hope so, I'm still holding out hope" of higher education funding for the year, Hays said. "Unfortunately it wasn't included in what passed today," he said.

State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, said she "hasn't gotten a positive word" about advancing an appropriations bill for colleges and universities.

She said she had asked House Speaker Michael Madigan to include some higher education funding in the appropriations bill the House approved Wednesday. It was not in the legislation, however.

"Not only are social services suffering but now the schools are saying that they won't be able to fund their MAP grants, their scholarships, in the semester," she said. "So the next semester is going to be really tough on the enrollment of students."

State Rep. Tom Bennett, a former Parkland College board member, said he hoped to get the issue resolved soon.

"This has been going on way too long," said the Gibson City Republican. "We need to come together and find some way to make all of this work. Illinois deserves better."

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Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on December 02, 2015 at 6:12 pm

I guess Rep Ammons does not have the political yank she thought she has........................


but she supports the speaker 100%

wayward wrote on December 03, 2015 at 9:12 am

Not too sure how much power any freshman legislator has at this point.  But I don't think picking a fight with Madigan at this point would put her in a stronger position.

worldgoesroundincircles wrote on December 02, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Madigan doesn't care about anything south of I-80 and never will. Nothing but double talk and talking out of both sides of their <enter body part>. So sick of Madigan. This state needs MAJOR change. 

vcponsardin wrote on December 02, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Time to impeach the plutocrat Rauner...

IlliniBooster wrote on December 03, 2015 at 7:12 am

Has the governor not said multiple times that he views the U if I as an economic engine?  That engine is starving for fuel.  And the majority of students who will be affected by the missing MAP grants are in community colleges NORTH of I-80 so the geographic reference above is moot in this case. 

BTW, hearing crickets from Henry Admin and Swanlund on the budget these days. There must be discussions going on, but guess there is a limit to shared governance  



wayward wrote on December 03, 2015 at 9:12 am

A little curious whether Killeen regrets taking the job.  I think he expected to have to clean up some messes, but I doubt he anticipated this on top of everything else.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 03, 2015 at 10:12 am

Rauner, and Madigan expect the state's universities to "trim the fat".  That includes high salaries for administrators, adding programs, and continued building/expansion.   Rauner made statements regarding higher education prior to his election.  Those who voted for him evidently wanted all of the cuts.