State Senator Dale Righter, who sponsors the local 55th district, is sponsoring legislation that would help universities, community colleges, and the Monetary Award Program (MAP grants) to receive much needed funding from the State of Illinois.
Higher education and MAP grant funding have not received a penny this fiscal year, due to the state’s ongoing budget impasse.
“The legislature has failed to do its job – passing a balanced budget,” Righter said. “Universities, community colleges, and students who receive MAP grants are all at the breaking point. We must act now before more layoffs are announced, devastating cuts are made, and students are forced to skip returning to school due to the lack of MAP grant funding. If we say education is of the essence, let’s put our money where our mouth is.”
Under Righter’s legislation, four year colleges/universities would be funded at 80% of 2015 funding levels, two-year community colleges would be funded at 90% of 2015 funding levels, and MAP grants would be funded at 100% of 2015 funding levels.
This budget proposal invests a total of nearly $1.7 billion dollars from General Funds in Illinois’ Higher Education System.
“This is about the only chance we have left to save higher education, as a budget deal doesn’t appear imminent,” Righter said. “Our students deserve this. Our universities and community colleges deserve this. This may not be the perfect solution, but we have to do something now before these institutions are forced to go to the extreme just to make sure their campuses stay open.”
This legislation, however, would be contingent if and only if another piece of legislation Righter will file this week passes, called the Unbalanced Budget Response Act. This legislation gives Governor Rauner expanded authority and more flexibility to address the budget deficit in the state’s current fiscal year and next year’s fiscal year 2017 budget, by allowing the Governor to move more money around to plug budget holes.
“These pieces of legislation strike a good balance between funding our universities and helping our students – especially during this budget impasse, while making sure higher education is spending taxpayer dollars the most efficiently,” Righter said. “We’ve already seen what is around the corner if we don’t act. Eastern Illinois University has announced potential layoffs and furlough time due to the lack of a state budget. We are running out of time. We must act now.”