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Senate votes to restore more higher education funding

mapoverridePublic universities and community colleges across Illinois would see a substantial portion of their state funding reinstated under legislation the Illinois Senate approved Wednesday.

Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) led efforts to restore $453.4 million in higher education funding. Included is $46 million for the popular student assistance program known as MAP, which provides assistance for low-income college students.

Senate Bill 2048 appropriates an additional $453.4 million for eight universities, MAP grants, community and city colleges and the Illinois Math and Science Academy. With the appropriation approved in April, this represents 60% of the current year’s funds.

Although it’s an easy decision for me to vote to send more money to colleges and universities, our job in the General Assembly is not finished,” Senator Don Harmon of Oak Park said. “This appropriation still falls short of what we’ve promised to our institutions of higher learning and to students who count on state tuition assistance to be able to afford college.”

After nearly a year without state funds, a number of Illinois universities and colleges are closing programs, laying off staff and uncertain whether they can be open for business for the fall semester, even after a stopgap funding measure to provide 30% of their appropriated funds – and 60% for Chicago State University, the school in the most desperate position – was approved in April.

Operational funding for Chicago State University is not included in this bill because PA99-502 provided 60% funding for the school.

In a related measure to make these monies available, the Senate passed Senate Bill 580, sponsored by Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) with an amendment to forgive the repayment of funds swept from special funds with untapped dollars last year. The bill authorizes the governor to not pay back inter-fund borrowing from 2015. It now heads to the House for their consideration.

“In the past months SIUE has voiced its concerns, students have rallied and I want them to know I hear their voices, said Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton). "SIUE is an important institution to not only my district, but the state as a whole. The students it attracts bring growth and prosperity to our state.”

Senator Bill Cunningham joined his colleagues in the Senate to vote to send additional emergency support to higher education.

“While we continue to negotiate for a full higher education budget, we need to send some funding to ensure that we can start to make good on the MAP grant commitments we made to middle-class families across the state,” Cunningham said. “This funding means that the Illinois Student Assistance Commission can start keeping its promises.”

“These funds will provide Rock Valley College with additional stability and allow them to prevent further layoffs,” Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) said. “These are the types of compromises needed to ensure our state is able to get back on the right track.”

“I have students in the streets protesting and calling on us to take action. Well, I hear you. We shouldn’t be in a crisis situation, and SIU needs its state funding,” Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) said. “Today we saw another piece of legislation to give SIU another 30 percent of the funds it needs to keep running. I am not thrilled to be voting again out of necessity. This is an avoidable situation. I want to remind the governor that he has a bill on his desk right now to give SIU 100 percent of the funding it needs right now.”

 

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