State universities have made efforts to cut, but warn that the state suffers
SPRINGFIELD — Speaking after presidents from five state universities testified on how they’re responding to the lack of a state budget and the possibility of more reductions to come, State Sen. Pat McGuire said a generation of students are being harmed by the governor’s lack of a clear plan for higher education in Illinois.
“We’ve heard of ‘thousands of decisions,’ as Northern Illinois University president Douglas Baker put, to rein in costs and streamline programs,” McGuire said following the hearing, in which presidents explained in detail how they are attempting to triage staff and programs for possible reduction or elimination. “That action at NIU and other state colleges is in sharp contrast to lack of any apparent plan for higher education from the Rauner administration other than to let schools wither.”
Calling the Illinois House’s recently-passed stopgap measure “unsustainable,” Baker said universities need stability and predictability from state government. Speaking of years of reduced state funding for higher education, Baker said:
“Unfortunately, these kinds of cuts hit those with the lowest financial ability the most. It hurts the most needy students the worst, but it impacts all of them.”
“In the absence of any plan from the Rauner administration for how to stabilize and strengthen our state’s higher education system, I fear we’re creating a two-class higher education system in Illinois where those who can afford it will be able to earn college degrees, but those who can’t afford it are out of luck,” McGuire said.
McGuire, D-Joliet, is chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.
Since the first of the year, Senate President John Cullerton and GOP Leader Christine Radogno have been working together to build a legislative package that would end the budget stalement and address a range of policy issues. They have traveled the state speaking to editorial boards of news outlets about the content of the bills, including procurement reform, local government consolidation, pension reform and a property tax freeze.
SPRINGFIELD— A parent whose child has a serious medical condition can receive time off from work under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, that same parent would not be allowed under FMLA to take time off for the death of a child.
In fact, the average bereavement leave for a person who loses a child is three days according to a researcher at Arizona State University.
Today, State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) passed legislation out of the Illinois Senate guaranteeing parents who lose a child time off work to grieve.
Today, the Illinois Senate passed legislation that could essentially end the 2016 budget year stalemate.
Some 90 percent of the state spending plan already is in place because of various court orders, leaving just higher education and many social services, which serve thousands of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens, left unfunded. This afternoon the Senate concurred with the House on Senate Bill 2046 and approved spending authority for the state’s public universities and social services left unfunded during the budget impasse.
Members of the Illinois Senate today welcomed the Honorable Secretary of Public Health of Mexico City, Dr. Armando Ahued, who delivered a speech on behalf of Dr. Miguel Angel Mancera, the mayor of Mexico City. Dr. Mancera was scheduled to speak before the body, but had to stay in Mexico due to a pollution crisis.
Dr. Ahued is a surgeon who graduated from the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico. He has held the position of Secretary of Public Health since 2006. Dr. Ahued has promoted the well-being of his constituents based on the principles of education and access to preventive care as effective tools to preserve the public’s health. He is the leading force behind the program Doctor In Your Home, which seeks to provide free care to vulnerable people.
For 20 years, Pay Equity Day has highlighted the disparity in workplace earnings between men and women. The day, held in April, represents the extra days a full-time working woman would have to work just to make the same as a man in the previous year.
State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) passed a resolution in the Senate today highlighting the issue.
“If women earned the exact same amount as our male counterparts, we would be able to afford seven additional months of mortgage and utility payments or afford nearly two years’ worth of food in one’s lifetime.”
Today, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 2043, which funds Monetary Award Program grants for the 2015-16 academic year as well provides money for community colleges and vocational and GED training as well. State Senator Pat McGuire rose on the Senate floor in support of the legislation. Below is the audio of his speech.
UPDATE 2:07 p.m. Jan. 28:
SPRINGFIELD — Thousands of college students in Illinois who have been without their promised financial aid for months are now a step closer to receiving it.
State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) voted to pass Senate Bill 2043, which authorizes full funding of Monetary Award Program grants for the 2015-16 academic year.
“These students have faith that earning a degree will help them and our state flourish,” McGuire said. “They also have faith – which I heard expressed at four hearings across Illinois – that the state of Illinois will fulfill its promise to help them pay for college. The General Assembly voted today to honor that. Now it’s the governor’s turn.”
Last May, the General Assembly passed MAP grant legislation, which the governor vetoed. And in August, SB 2043 stalled in the House. This version of SB 2043 that passed the House on Thursday not only includes MAP grant funding but money for community colleges and career-technical and adult education as well.
With the Senate’s final approval Thursday, the measure now goes to the governor.
Across the country, tuition costs and students loans are soaring, but in Illinois, the problem has been further compounded by another issue. Students who receive financial aid from the state’s Monetary Award Program remain in limbo because the governor vetoed their funding.
Public colleges and universities have been fronting the costs to cover the MAP grants through the fall semester, but have indicated that generous gesture simply cannot continue. Last year, MAP grants assisted over 136,000 students in affording college.
Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) is the chairman of the Higher Education Committee, and has been a vocal advocate for these students.
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