Illinois Democrats have approved $721.5 million for tuition grants and community colleges, but Republicans call it an empty promise because the state still doesn't have a budget.
The funding measure sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday allocates $324.4 million to community colleges for operating costs and $397.1 million to the Monetary Award Program for low-income students. The bill is Senate Bill 2043.
The bill allocates $324.4 million to community colleges for operating costs and $397.1 million to the Monetary Award Program for low-income students
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin called the Democrats’ proposal “a cruel hoax” because there’s no funding source for it. He says Rauner has already indicated he’ll veto the bill.
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Republicans say they want to help colleges and students, but argue the state should pass a full budget.
Democrats say colleges and students are in desperate need for money because they’ve gotten no state funding since July 1, when the budget should’ve taken effect.
Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn said the legislation is a “step in the right direction.”
“Regardless of the fate of this bill, we want to thank especially our campus legislators for not just keeping the higher education funding crisis in front of the state, but also voting today to give hope to our students that their MAP grants will be funded and hope to our university community that a solution to fund the state’s investment in our institution will be coming soon,” Dunn said.
He added: “We realize this bill does not solve all our problems, as it does not include our operating funds, but it is a step in the right direction and at least, in terms of MAP grants, gets us in line with the ninety percent of entities that receive a state appropriation. I think our MAP grant students are worthy of being at the front part of that line.”
Lawmakers voting in favor of the bill included Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, whose district includes Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
“There are many students who rely on MAP grants for their college tuition,” Haine said. “Today we voted to ensure students have the opportunity to have access to a quality education. With this legislation we are investing in students, as well as our state’s future. We must not turn our back on this.”