Rauner vetoes MAP grant bill

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Rauner vetoes MAP grant bill

By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed another bill Friday that would fund the state’s Monetary Award Program and cover operational costs at community colleges.

Illinois’ public universities and community colleges have received no appropriations for grant aid or operational costs since July 1, when the state’s budget impasse began. Rauner issued a statement Friday that pointed to the state’s dismal financial footing as reason for his decision.

The $721 million spending plan proposed by Democrats would only serve to exacerbate the cash-flow crisis and “explode the state’s deficit,” Rauner said.

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The governor suggested members of the General Assembly instead pass either of two Republican-backed bills in the Illinois House and Senate to fund all higher education expenses – including MAP grants – at $1.6 billion. Each bill contains a companion bill that would give Rauner near-unlimited power over the state’s budget during his term and is unlikely to pass the General Assembly.

Democratic Senate President John Cullerton said last month the Illinois Senate would stall the bill to give the governor more time to reconsider his veto promise. It was sent to the governor on Tuesday.

Cullerton said in a press release Friday that the governor has again let down students in Illinois who depend on the state aid to attend college.

 “I don’t understand how he can propose funding student financial aid on Wednesday, and then turn around and veto it on Friday,” Cullerton said.

Cullerton plans to meet with Senate Democrats in the coming days to discuss the next step for the legislation.

MAP grants pay a variable portion of college tuition and costs for about 130,000 low-income students in Illinois. The maximum award given per student is about $4,500 as of the previous school year when the program was last funded. The grants have traditionally received bi-partisan support.

Public universities in Illinois paid for MAP grants through the spring and fall semesters with an expectation of reimbursement from the state. The university fronted roughly $15 million dollars to about 4,700 students who were eligible to receive them.

John Charles, SIU’s executive director of governmental affairs, said the decision by the governor was a disappointment.

“We hope that the General Assembly attempts to override the veto or find another solution to fund MAP grants and university operations very soon,” Charles said. 

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

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