IL lawmakers approve $600M in short-term funding for higher education

ByWill Jones WLS logo
Friday, April 22, 2016
Lawmakers pass emergency education funding bill
Illinois lawmakers have approved a $600 million short-term funding infusion for higher education institutions.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Illinois lawmakers have approved a $600 million short-term funding infusion for higher education institutions that have been struggling financially due to not receiving state money during the state budget impasse.

The Senate unanimously approved the deal Friday after House members voted for it 106-2.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign the bill. He issued a statement through his spokeswoman that praised lawmakers in the Democrat-led chambers for putting "aside political differences" to provide emergency assistance for colleges and universities.

The funding will be felt immediately at public universities like Chicago State University on the city's south side.

"It really had me a little worried at first because I'm not sure where I would go if it was to close down," says CSU student Courtney Hulsey.

Under the legislation the university would receive $20 million, 60 percent of what it was slated to get under the Democratic budget.

University officials have been making cuts to remain open during the budget impasse, from accelerating the spring semester to sending out layoff notices. Officials say the cuts aren't over.

"Our financial problems have to be solved with a multitude of belt tightening exercises including a reduction of force as unfortunate and unpleasant as that is, it has simply become necessary to do that even though we have got that appropriation," says Dr. Thomas Calhoun, CSU President.

Some are calling the legislation just a temporary fix.

"Don't be too proud after this passes because all we have done is delay unless we change how we go forward. I am going to vote no out of protest, I know it's going to pass but we need to do much better," said Rep. Jack Franks (D-63rd).

"I would like for them to do their job. My job here is a student is to come here and get my education," says Darrien Martin, a student at CSU.

University officials say the impasse has also impacted enrollment. CSU will hold an enrollment fair Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.