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Senate votes to override Rauner veto of MAP, college funding (AUDIO)

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Thousands of Illinois college students may soon receive need-based state financial aid. 

trotter mapvetoSenate Sponsor Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) and the Illinois Senate Democrats voted to override Gov.  Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 2043.

The state of Illinois is unable to spend any money on the student aid grants Gov. Rauner’s administration awarded because he has vetoed the spending authority.

“I stood outside the governor’s office in January with students. We personally hand-delivered this funding bill to him and watched him strike down our efforts with his veto. He may be interested in soundbites, but I’m interested in keeping the students in my district and across this state in school.”

The Monetary Award Program is the state’s leading financial aid program for college students. It provides grants, which do not need to be repaid, to Illinois residents based on their financial need so they can attend approved Illinois colleges and universities.

jjc mapOR“The governor has repeatedly let these students down, students who were promised financial aid by his administration," Senate President John J. Cullerton said. "Today’s vote is an attempt to give the governor the opportunity to honor his administration’s commitments and prove that education is the priority he says it is.”

“Governor Rauner’s refusal to honor the commitment he made to these students has thrown into jeopardy the future that they envisioned when they enrolled,” Higher Education Chairman State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) said. “It’s imperative that the MAP grants they were promised get into their hands so they can concentrate on their education, not how they are going to pay for it.”

Currently, more than 125,000 of Illinois’ students rely on this need-based assistance to continue their college education. Without this assistance, many students may be forced to drop out of school or take on expensive loans to continue their education.

Senate Bill 2043 passed the Senate with a partisan vote of 37-17-2. You can listen to Senate Democrats' reactions here.


Statements from other senators:

lightford mapveto“We all say we take pride in education and that academics are a priority – myself included,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood). “I just voted to put our state’s dollars where my values have always been, and I will continue to fight for the issues that we all know are most important for our future. Now, let’s pass a fair budget and keep our students funded for years to come.”

“It’s time to return to learning.” said Lightford. “For many college students, they have had their education stifled by politics and unwilling leadership. We have now overpowered the governor’s lack of leadership and given financially vulnerable Illinois students the help they need.”

Listen to Sen. Lightford's remarks on the floor

Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) who represents the part of Southern Illinois where the college is located, said he is glad to see that his colleagues in the Senate took a stand on Wednesday to show Gov. Rauner that he can’t get in the way of Illinois students.

“Today we had a win,” said Forby. “We showed the governor that we will not allow him to take away important opportunities for Southern Illinois college students. If we want our citizens to be prepared to enter the workforce, one important step is making sure they have access to education.”

Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton): “I am happy to see that my colleagues in the Senate see MAP grant funding as important as I do. Making sure MAP grant funding is a priority is making sure our students’ futures are a priority. I hope the legislation receives the same support in the House.”

Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park): “This governor’s administration made a promise and all this legislation does is give him an opportunity to keep that promise. Our community college system is on the brink of collapse at the rate we are going and our most financially needy students are being sent away by many schools across the state.”

Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills): “We all have students in our districts that are struggling to find ways to pay for their education. There are thousands of student throughout the state who were promised assistance in going to college through the MAP grant. Now is the time the state keeps that promise,” said Senator Link.

Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill): “We committed to funding MAP grants this year, and today’s vote backs up that commitment,” Manar said. “The governor has made a habit of promising one thing when he’s visiting towns across Illinois, and then returing to Springfield with totally different intentions. His veto of MAP funding is a prime example of that.”

group mapvetoSenator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago): “This administration made promises to more than 125,000 students that they would receive the MAP grant. What we did over a month ago was give the governor the opportunity to keep those promises. But the governor’s veto concerns me. There seems to be no intention to keep those promises and that will only deal irreparable damage to our integrity as a state. We also have to consider community colleges in this situation. Many of them have approved or will be approving faculty layoffs. These are faculty members that have an impact in the classroom and yet this governor has once again said no to ensuring that the classrooms are properly staffed.”

Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines): “How many of the 130,000 MAP grant recipients in Illinois will be forced to drop out before the governor realizes we have to prioritize education funding? These grants are the only opportunity many of these students will have to be prepared in the challenging job market. This vote was for the almost 2,000 students in my district who are unsure if they will be able to continue their education this fall. The governor has to stop playing political games with people’s lives.”

Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey): “I refuse to give up on students. Education takes young people out of poverty and allows them to become strong contributors to our economy. Chicago State is a priority for many people in my district, but the lack of funding is hurting families across the state. There are still students waiting for money promised to them almost a year ago. That’s unacceptable. The governor’s administration made these promises and they need to deliver. Together we must stand up and fight back. I urge my colleagues in the House to override the governor’s veto as well. The future of our youth is depending on it.”

Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park): “Today, members of the Senate struck a blow for college students all over the state. These students and their families find themselves caught in the middle of a budget stalemate that is causing Illinois’ higher education network to unravel. Our message today is clear: these students have not been forgotten, and they deserve a chance to continue pursuing their education with the state’s help as promised. Overriding the governor’s veto of MAP grant funding was the right thing to do for the state of Illinois, for its people and for its economy.”

Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora): “We’re talking about assistance for students who are capable and willing to go to school and learn the skills that will make them successful, but who can’t pay the rising costs of education. Failing to do this leaves our students unsure of their futures and weakens us as a state. We must authorize this funding.”

Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago): “My colleagues and I took action today to keep Illinois college students in school by overriding the governor’s veto of financial aid and college funding. He touts his plans for new jobs but blocks funding for higher education, without which our young people can’t get degrees to qualify for those jobs. This makes no sense. In our district, almost 3,000 MAP recipients received nearly $9.8m in MAP grants. There were 2,400 additional applicants in the district who would have been eligible but applied after funding was stopped by the governor. That’s about 45% of eligible students who were left out, and that is not acceptable.

“Governor Rauner seems reluctant to keep the state’s commitment to fund education above the 12th grade level. We are not reluctant and I will always stand up for higher education.”

Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago): “It’s beyond frustrating that the governor doesn’t believe the state should honor its commitment to thousands of students who have been promised needed aid for college. I will continue doing what I can to fight back against the governor’s decisions that are crushing student’s college dreams and destroying our higher education system.” 

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood): “My support for the override is straightforward. It’s a priority of mine to ensure that students throughout my district have the aid they need to go to college and obtain a degree”

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) "It is infuriatingly unnecessary that in order to improve their prospects and make the most of their talents, many of our state’s young people find they must leave Illinois – if they have the resources to do so. Too many do not. They live with the disappointment of a dream deferred, and meanwhile, our economic vitality, our quest for equality and our struggle for stronger communities wither on the vine.

"The House and Senate have repeatedly voted to release funds for MAP grants so that qualified, low-income students can continue to receive a college education. Yet the governor has ignored the pleas of countless students who want nothing more than to better themselves and our state. He has vetoed this legislation, jeopardizing not only the prospects of MAP grant recipients, but the continued survival of one of Illinois’ greatest assets – its public institutions of higher learning. Already, more than a thousand MAP grant recipients have been forced to stop going to class. They simply cannot afford to foot the bill while the state fails them."

Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights): “Throughout this entire budget impasse, innocent bystanders have been on the front lines, bearing the brunt of cuts and delays in state funding. MAP recipients, through no fault of their own, have been among the hardest hit. As a former MAP and Pell grant recipient, I know just how hard it can be to cobble together enough resources to get through a semester. I would not be who I am today or where I am today without these grants. I urge my House colleagues to make our students a priority and support MAP funding. We have no future in Illinois if we do not invest in education.”

Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park): "Today we voted to make an important investment in Illinois’ future. College affordability shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I urge the governor to stop playing political games and to start thinking about how we can make investments in our students to help them succeed.”

Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake): “For nearly a year, students who have the grades and aptitude to succeed but not the money to afford their education have wondered if they’ll be able to continue their studies. These are students who are going to school already with the promise of MAP grants. If we don't authorize this funding, they may need to go home.”

Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign): “I’m proud to stand with college students throughout my district. The state shouldn’t be in the business of choosing winners and losers based on financial need. College affordability should not be a partisan issue. It’s the state’s duty to make valuable investments in students at Danville Area Community College, the University of Illinois and Parkland College to increase their chances to succeed, not force them to graduate with mountains of debt and missed opportunities.”

Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago): “I can’t see how we can say that we support moving the state forward and ignore something as important as the MAP grants. These grants help people to get their lives back together.... vote yes.”

Senator Antonio “Tony” Munoz (D-Chicago) voted to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2043, legislation that would release Monetary Award Program funding to universities throughout the state.  Munoz reacted to the vote with the following statement.
“MAP grants are a vital tool to help low income students pay for college. It’s unconscionable that anyone would play politics with the education of our college students. I am proud to vote to restore MAP grant funding and stand with the students of my community.”