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A strong public university system — like we have in Illinois — is good for the state as a whole. It fosters innovation, strengthens cities and rural areas, keeps educational costs down, and discourages ambitious students from leaving for more glamorous parts of the country.

So why has the Republican governor of Alaska just cut state support to the University of Alaska system by 41 percent? Last I checked, there weren’t a lot of pricey private universities in Alaska to pick up the slack. Students will be stranded without being able to finish their degrees, branch campuses may close down and thousands could be fired. How does this make Alaska a better place to live?

Universities in Illinois were not openly targeted by our Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, but his years of budget stalemate stressed the whole system, hurting many communities.

I was pleased to hear that Gov. J.B. Pritzker is trying to help build our university system again, and the UI is even enjoying a modest increase in support. We need to strengthen our local institutions, not tear them down.