Effort to override MAP grant veto fails

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By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

An effort to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of an appropriation bill that could fund higher education failed Wednesday in Springfield.

The legislation would have given Rauner authority to spend $721.5 million on Monetary Award Program grants and operational costs for community colleges. The Illinois Senate passed the motion 37-17 but it fell two votes shy of three-fifths majority in the Illinois House of Representatives.

All representatives and senators from districts that encompass SIUC voted with their respective political parties.

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“We applaud House Republicans and [Rep. Scott] Drury for standing up for taxpayers today,” Rauner press secretary Catherine Kelly said. “We continue to urge Democratic leaders not to recess until the General Assembly passes a bipartisan proposal to fund MAP and higher education.”

MORE: Rauner vetoes MAP grant bill | Loss of MAP grants could cost students more than money

Public universities and community colleges have received no state money in fiscal year 2016, as Illinois lags into nine months without a budget. Chicago State University sent layoff notices to 900 of its employees last month. Eastern Illinois University and Western Illinois University are putting administrative staffers on furlough and conducting layoffs.

Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, who initially voted against the bill and was expected to do so again by the Rauner administration, said legislators “have to stop the bleeding” as Illinois universities undergo severe financial hardships. He also pointed out that the bill is not legally binding.

“All we’re doing when we pass this bill is giving the governor the option to spend this money,” Franks said.

Illinois GOP lawmakers criticized proponents of the bill for taking a piecemeal approach to the state’s fiscal crisis and pushing “feel-good” legislation meant to further political careers. Accusations were also made of a refusal to negotiate multiple Republican-backed bills lingering in committee.

“This is not a ‘feel-good’ bill,” said Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Oak Lawn, who was the bill’s House sponsor. “I don’t feel good about having spent six months to get some sort of resolution for our students, our community colleges or our universities.”

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Bill Lukitsch can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3329.

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