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Rauner expected to veto MAP funding again

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Rauner expected to veto MAP funding again

By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to veto an appropriations bill for higher education that passed both houses in the Illinois General Assembly on Thursday.

Senate Bill 2043, if passed, would disburse $397 million to the need-based Monetary Award Program for all Illinois colleges and universities, and pay a portion of operational costs incurred at community colleges statewide. It is a piece of the $1.9 billion spending plan for higher education passed by Democrats in May that was vetoed by the governor.

SIU President Randy Dunn released a statement Thursday thanking state lawmakers who voted to pass SB 2043 for “keeping the higher education crisis in front of the state,” regardless of the bill’s fate.

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Rauner’s budget director Tim Nuding said in a memo addressed to members of the Illinois General Assembly that the $721 million spending plan would further the budget deficit because it does not detail a revenue source.

Nuding advised state lawmakers to instead support an alternative Republican-backed bill that allocates $1.6 billion in funding for higher education, which reflects the 31.5 percent cuts to public universities Rauner proposed 11 months ago.

State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, is a co-sponsor on that bill and voted against SB 2043 in accordance with GOP instruction.

“The bill I am sponsoring would provide funding for colleges and universities as well as MAP grants without raising taxes,” Bryant said. “It is profoundly disingenuous for the Democrats in the House to promise students MAP grant money when they know the governor will veto this plan.”

But the spending plan sponsored by Bryant and 19 other Republican representatives would only take effect if additional legislation is passed granting the governor temporary executive authority over the budget until the beginning of fiscal year 2018.

In the meantime, Illinois universities have received no state money since the budget gridlock between the Democratic-controlled assembly and the governor began in July.

State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, said he hopes the governor will see the importance of SB 2043 and abstain from a veto because it also provides funding for community colleges, vocational training and adult education programs.

“It is important we continue to provide Illinois students with the tools they need to enter the workforce,” Forby said.

Officials at Chicago State University announced last month the college would be unable to make payroll payments without state appropriations come March. Threats of massive layoffs and furlough payments have also come from Northern Illinois University, Governors State University, Western Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University.

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

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