Daily Egyptian

Cullerton asks Rauner to pass funding for higher education

By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is asking Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to reconsider his promise to veto a partial appropriations bill that would provide funding for college students.

The legislation would disburse $397 million in Monetary Award Program grants and give an additional $324 million to the state’s community colleges for operational costs. It passed both houses in the General Assembly without a single vote from the GOP.

More than a third of SIUC’s 17,292 students enrolled in fall 2015 were eligible to receive the need-based grants. The university picked up the tab for the grants during spring and fall semesters with expectation of reimbursement from the state once a budget is passed.

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“Thousands of students across Illinois rely on [MAP grants] to be able to attend college and pursue degrees,” Cullerton said. “I would urge the governor to rethink his position, reconsider his priorities and not act rashly but rather in the best interests of these students, their futures and the future of Illinois.”

The Illinois Senate will wait to send the bill to Rauner’s desk until Feb. 16 so the governor has ample time to “ponder whether another veto is the best approach,” Cullerton said.

MAP grants are given to about 125,000 low-income students in Illinois per year. 

In response to Cullerton’s announcement, Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said Monday the governor still plans to veto Senate Bill 2043 because “there is no way to pay for it.”

“Rather than playing politics with a dead piece of legislation, we urge the Senate to focus on finding real solutions and vote next week on legislation that would fund MAP grants with a fiscally responsible way to pay for them,” Kelly said. 

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

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