University students and faculty from all over Illinois rallied in Springfield Wednesday to call for an end to the budget impasse that has held up funding for higher education and imperiled programs and services at the state’s public colleges.
Joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Illinois House and Senate, the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities called on the General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner to swiftly approve funding for state universities. A previous stopgap measure expired at the end of 2016, and colleges have since gone without state funding.
State Senator and Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, addressed the rally to speak on the grand bargain that would include $1.1 billion in funding for higher education and take steps to end the budget impasse that he said has hurt the lives of students and the schools they attend.
“I know for many of you this is not your first trip to our state capital to advocate for funding for higher education,” McGuire said. “Your persistence is having an effect.”
The Senate continues to negotiate details of a budget plan this week as the General Assembly awaits the governor’s upcoming budget proposal. McGuire urged the students, faculty, and activists at the rally to send a clear message to the General Assembly and the governor to pass the bipartisan compromise.
SPRINGFIELD – Following the governor’s State of the State address Wednesday, State Senator Pat McGuire released the following statement:
“Halfway through his term, the governor is only half-right when it comes to education and jobs. Illinois does need more good, middle-class jobs. But when it comes to post-secondary education, all the governor talked about were research universities and ‘wealth creation.’
“The community college student studying nursing who needs financial aid to finish? Silence. The small-college student hoping to earn a teaching degree without crushing student loan debt? Crickets. The public university student majoring in criminal justice who hopes her school will stay open? Not a word.”
CHICAGO— State Senator Bill Cunningham joined the University of Illinois in announcing a new performance and accountability initiative that will ensure full funding for the university and help hold the line on tuition increases.
The plan would provide the university with stable funding and some regulatory relief in exchange for meeting specific standards on student access and achievement. Some examples of standards include in-state enrollment requirements and benchmarks on graduation rates, financial aid and tuition.
“This proposal would provide U of I with stable funding from the legislature, but it would require them to reach a number of goals to keep the funds flowing," Cunningham said. “We need real results from our universities to ensure that state resources are being properly used.”
The plan was announced at the University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago on Thursday. Cunningham will serve as the chief senate sponsor on the initiative.
Senator Cunningham represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago.
SPRINGFIELD—Higher education administrators will no longer be able to claim country club memberships as a part of their pensionable income thanks to a proposal pushed by Senator Bill Cunningham becoming law today.
Senate Bill 2156 was one several new laws authored by Cunningham this year aimed at limiting perks for public college and university presidents in Illinois. The legislation was sparked by a scandal at the College of DuPage, where the president received a $750,000 severance package just to leave the college.
SPRINGFIELD -- Two measures sponsored by State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) as part of his push to modernize higher education and make college more affordable have been signed into law.
The first piece of legislation, House Bill 4675, reclassifies the sources of two funds for adult and career education. This is in response to confusion about the funds’ sources in an earlier budget bill that led to the two funds — which totaled $43 million — being left out of the earlier bill.
The second new law, House Bill 6009, streamlines the data collection process that community colleges must undertake and updates other state laws regarding higher education.
“These two bills provide clear financial relief for our state’s community colleges by trimming bureaucracy and increasing efficiency by eliminating duplicative services,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Modernizing the nuts and bolts of community college administration is an integral part of making higher education more affordable.”
Having been signed by the governor, both bills are now law.
SPRINGFIELD — When Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) learned that an undocumented University of Illinois student was prevented from running for the position of student trustee because he was unable to show that he was a registered voter in Illinois, she filed legislation to fix the problem.
That proposal passed out of the Illinois Senate and House, but it was vetoed by the governor today.
“I am disappointed by the governor’s veto,” Martinez said. “College is about helping students grow inside and outside of the classroom, and it should not be difficult for a student to be allowed to run for a leadership position at their university. The governor had a chance to open up opportunities to students, but he unfortunately chose not to do so.”
VILLA PARK – State Senator Tom Cullerton’s college administrative reforms were signed into law today.
This reform package was advanced by Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, in response to the repetitive reports of abuse and misuse of taxpayer dollars at the state’s universities and community colleges, in particular the College of DuPage, located in Cullerton’s backyard.
“These new laws are necessary first steps to stop waste, fraud and abuse at our state universities and community colleges, “ Cullerton said. “We need to put an end to the days of college administrators banking on executive perks at the expense of our college students.
One of the new laws will prevent a lame duck community college board from entering into a new contract with a college administrator starting 45 days prior to Election Day through the rest of their terms.
Cullerton knows that with these new laws we will be able to better protect taxpayers and tuition payers from future scandals
The reform package would also require that community college and university boards be required to take four hours of professional development training in topics that include labor laws, open meetings act requirements, or ethics training.
“We need to find ways to make a higher education more affordable in Illinois,” Cullerton said. “These new laws were a long time coming and will help keep some control on the rising costs of higher education.”
Recognition Process (Senate Bill 2155) – Provides that for a community college to be recognized by ICCB, the college must show compliance with applicable state and federal laws regarding employment, contracts and compensation.
Community College Trustee Training (Senate Bill 2157) – Requires new college board trustees to complete four hours of professional development training that range from labor laws, open meetings act, freedom of information regulations, ethics and financial and accountability oversight.
Preventing Lame-Duck Decisions (Senate Bill 2158) – Prohibits community college boards from entering into new employee contracts or changing existing employee contracts 45 days prior to Election Day for trustees and extends through the lame-duck period until the first meeting of the new board.
In 2009, Former DuPage Community College President Breuder’s contract extension was approved by a lame-duck board.
Transparency at Community Colleges and State Universities (Senate Bill 2159) – Promotes transparency by requiring contract terms, annual performance reviews of administrators and forbids contract buyouts in cases of pending criminal charges.
University Board Training (Senate Bill 2174)-Requires every voting member of a public university governing board to complete a minimum of four hours of professional development leadership training that range from labor laws, open meetings act, freedom of information regulations, ethics and financial and accountability oversight.
Cullerton looks forward to working with his colleagues next legislative session to further reform administrative costs at state institutions of higher education to move the state forward and protect Illinois’ college students.
SPRINGFIELD – After learning about an outlandish severance package given to an outgoing community college president by a lame duck board of trustees, Senate Bill Cunningham knew something had to change.
Cunningham proposed a package of reforms that was signed into law today, making the hiring and firing process of college administrators more transparent and fair to both taxpayers and students.
The package includes a proposal that would require community college boards and university boards partake in a minimum of four hours of professional development training that ranges from labor laws to ethics training.
“We need to protect taxpayers and tuition payers,” Cunningham said. “Tuition is on the rise in part because of abuse in the hiring and firing of chief administrators of our state universities and community colleges.”
Another proposal in the package would ban a lame duck community college board from approving a new contract with less than 45 days left before the next election.
CHICAGO – More than $25 million in state funding for youth employment and after-school programs is up for a vote in the Illinois Senate on Wednesday.
“Once thriving after-school programs on Chicago’s South Side are struggling to remain open,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), a career advocate for youth jobs and violence prevention in the city. “Last year, I met teenage filmmakers at After School Matters who used their cameras to lead anti-violence efforts in our community. Now, those teens are at risk of losing the very activities that kept them safe during dangerous summers.”
In November, Hunter visited the video and music production program TechKno Camp to participate in the students short docudrama focused on violence prevention.
An Illinois Senate-assembled plan would provide $13 million for youth programs like Teen Reach and $12 million for youth employment and after-school programs in the state.
Additional proposals to provide $655 million to public universities including Chicago State University and increase Chicago Public Schools’ funding by $286 million are on the table for Wednesday.
“I hope the governor will give our youth a fighting chance by adequately funding youth programs, K-12 education and public universities,” Hunter said.
The Senate will convene on Wednesday at noon to take action on pending budget measures.
SPRINGFIELD — To open schools on time, fund universities, maintain road projects and protect the state’s most vulnerable, State Senator Melinda Bush called on the General Assembly and Governor Bruce Rauner to pass stop gap funding measures.
“The legislation we’re about to debate in Springfield reflects a compromise for both sides,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “We have a choice this week between fighting for ideology or coming together to fulfill our duty to students, businesses and the people who need our help the most. We must make the right choice.”
A wide-ranging stop gap package includes an increase of $760 million to state schools, including increases to early childhood education at a level proposed by Governor Rauner, $1 billion to higher education to cover operational costs and tuition grants that have gone unpaid during the budget impasse, operational funds for state agencies to ensure facilities such as prisons can remain open, funding for Department of Transportation road projects and $650 million in funding for human services that include programs like autism relief, addiction treatment, and aid to those with mental illness, developmental disability and the blind and aged.
“It is unfortunate that we’re here at the eleventh hour debating a stop gap measure, but it isn’t too late to do what Illinoisans have been clear in calling on us to do: Our jobs,” Bush said. “I call on the governor to do his.”
The General Assembly convenes tomorrow to consider the legislation.
AURORA — Ahead of the end of the Illinois fiscal year Thursday, State Senator Linda Holmes voiced her support for legislation that would release $1 billion in funding to state universities and community colleges.
The funding includes $5 million in funding to the Illinois Math and Science Academy for operational expenses and $151 million to pay out the remainder of Monetary Award Program grants to college students for the 2016 school year.
“The same week we take up funding for K-12 education, we must address the promise of higher education in Illinois,” said Holmes, D-Aurora. “Our next generation of workers have waited long enough for this fight to end. We need to do right by our brightest young students and our hardest-working college aspirants and pass this legislation.”
Senate Bill 2056 also includes funding for adult education and career and technical education programs, as well as various other grant programs through the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and Illinois Community College Board.
The General Assembly reconvenes June 29 to consider the legislation.
JOLIET — Thursday’s disclosure that the number of Illinois students applying for Monetary Award Program grants to help pay for college is down 13 percent is nothing but bad news for Illinois, according to State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet).
“College graduates earn more, pay more in taxes, are healthier, and are more active in civic affairs,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Yet Illinois is discouraging its own high school graduates from continuing their education by failing to fund the need-based financial aid program that has helped millions of Illinois residents get ahead for almost 50 years.”
Senator Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to veto another appropriations bill from the Legislature:
“Gov. Rauner’s stubborn refusal to propose a balanced budget – a duty outlined in the Illinois Constitution – has left Illinois to drift like a ship with no captain. “In the absence of actual leadership from the governor’s office, the General Assembly for months now has been forced to act unilaterally as we try to propose budget bills that the governor might sign to help residents who have been left to suffer without the state’s assistance. It’s a frustrating exercise.
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) issued the statement below following Gov. Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 2046, which would have provided funding for universities, community colleges and MAP grants.“The governor is sending a confusing message to Illinois businesses and taxpayers. While he says that improving Illinois’ business climate is his top priority, eliminating funding for higher education does exactly the opposite.“Over 60 percent of jobs in the current work force require a college-level education. Cutting these funds for colleges and preventing students from being able to further their education after high school will have a long-term impact not only on their future, but on the future of our economy.“The governor and legislative leaders need to drop the partisan rhetoric, get to Springfield and negotiate a budget that protects working-class families before the destruction done to Illinois is irreversible.”
PLAINFIELD — State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) issued the following statement after the governor vetoed Senate Bill 2046, a budget bill designed to get needed money to public universities and community colleges, human service agencies and other vital programs:I am disappointed that the governor vetoed a plan that would invest in our students, protect our seniors and help the addicted and homeless. When he ran for governor, he called for a more compassionate and competitive Illinois. This is a good goal to have, but he won’t make Illinois a better place by cutting off aid to students and closing the doors at human services agencies.Despite this veto, I remain committed to continuing to vote for budget proposals that will keep education, social services and other core services operating.
SPRINGFIELD — Legislation that will help high schools in Illinois better prepare their students for the 21st century workforce passed the Senate today.
The measure, called the 2016 Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act, would require districts that participate to develop a model for better college and career preparedness and a curriculum that aligns with that model. State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) said that a more knowledgeable workforce is vital for Illinois’ future.
“Illinois has made it a priority that by 2025, 60 percent of the adult workforce will have a post-secondary credential, whether that’s a college diploma or an advanced training certificate,” said McGuire, the act’s chief co-sponsor. “That means everyone who graduates from high school must be ready to move ahead by learning more.”
To address that, the legislation requires participating districts to develop “pathways” for students to earn college credit in mathematics. Students would then choose a pathway that aligns with their college or career goals, such as STEM, other technical fields or data analysis. Other provisions in the act include development of industry sector endorsements on diplomas to show that graduates have taken coursework that prepares them for their intended career path and opportunities to earn credit outside of school, such as an internship or work experience.
“Education is becoming like a series of extension ladders,” McGuire said. “Preschool now overlaps with grade school, grade school with high school and high school with college. That’s how our students and our state will continue to climb.”
House Bill 5729, sponsored by State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) passed both chambers unopposed and now awaits the governor’s signature.
SPRINGFIELD — With nearly the entire academic year passed, thousands of college students in Illinois who rely upon Monetary Award Program grants will finally be made whole, thanks to legislation passed by the Illinois Senate today.
House Bill 4167 authorizes the spending of $227 million for MAP grants for the 2015-16 academic year. When coupled with Senate Bill 2059, which was signed into law last month, the bills represent the original appropriation for MAP in the 2016 budget year. State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet), who has been on the forefront of the fight for MAP funding, was a chief co-sponsor of HB 4167.
“Last week I was at the commencements of Joliet Junior College and Governors State University. Both schools have many students awaiting the full amount of need-based financial aid the state promised them,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Passage of HB 4167 gets us two-thirds of the way toward keeping our word to these students. The governor now has the opportunity to take the final step.”
Without a proper higher education budget in place, colleges and universities fronted MAP money to students during the first semester. But a number of schools indicated that they couldn’t continue doing so for the second semester, leaving students to choose whether to go deeper into debt with more student loans or quit school altogether.
“Making almost 130,000 needy college students uncertain if they can continue their education makes Illinois’ future uncertain,” McGuire said. “Let’s wise up, support hard work and ambition, and fully fund MAP grants.”
HB 4167, having passed the House earlier this week, now goes to the governor’s desk.
SPRINGFIELD – Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) voted to send emergency funding to state universities and community colleges.
Senate Bill 2048 would ensure that all state universities, community colleges and MAP grants would receive some emergency funding to help with the current fiscal year. This is in addition to the Senate Bill 2059 which also sent emergency appropriations.
“Amidst our budget standoff, schools like Governor’s State and Chicago State were being starved and forced to make unfortunate decisions,” Hastings said. “Though a full higher education budget is still necessary, this will allow schools to continue to educate our students without making drastic decisions that only harm our students.”
The legislation would also send funding to schools that accept MAP grants to pay for a portion of the amounts that were awarded prior to the start of the fiscal year.
The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration
Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) speaks at a bipartisan press conference on legislation bringing higher education funding to 60% for FY2016.
Page 1 of 5