Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation Friday that would have freed up funds for the Monetary Award Program.
Funding for MAP, the state's tuition assistance program for low-income college students, has been frozen during the monthslong budget impasse in Illinois.
The governor's office had already indicated that Rauner planned to veto the $721 million proposal, which would have also provided funds for community colleges.
In his veto message, Rauner said the bill, SB 2043, "would explode the state's budget deficit, exacerbate the state's cash flow crisis, and place further strain on social service providers and recipients who are already suffering from the state's deficit spending."
Rauner said a better proposal is the $1.6 billion higher education spending plan proposed by Republican legislative leaders. The measure would cover spending for four-year universities, in addition to community colleges and MAP. Democrats do not agree with provisions in the legislation giving the governor greater authority over the budget during a fiscal crisis.
Senate President John Cullerton issued a statement expressing disappointment over Rauner's veto of SB 2043.
"I'm disappointed in the governor. He had a chance to back up his promises with funding. Instead, he let these students down, again," Cullerton said. "I don't understand how he can propose funding student financial aid on Wednesday, and then turn around and veto it on Friday."
Cullerton's office said the "Senate President will discuss with fellow Senate Democrats what steps to take next regarding the legislation."
UPDATE 1 (5:43 p.m.): Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, released the following statement in response to Rauner's veto:
Governor Rauner's veto of tuition assistance for low-income students and funding for community colleges was expected but incredibly disappointing. It's also hypocritical coming just two days after he delivered a speech touting education as his top priority while failing to mention his budget proposal included a 25% cut to universities and colleges across the state. Refusing to ask the very wealthy to pay a dime more while students sacrifice and suffer at his hand reveal Governor Rauner's true priorities, and investing in working families isn't one of them.
State Treasurer Mike Frierichs released a statement on the veto as well:
The Governor hurt the working poor and local taxpayers today.
Last year, we made a promise to 130,000 students and their families that we would help pay for college so they could achieve a better life. I don't know when it became fashionable to not honor a promise.
Not doing so also hurts taxpayers. Community colleges are funded with local tax dollars. This veto ignores our responsibility to local governments, needlessly shifts this burden to local taxpayers and flies in the face of support for local control.
Yes, our state faces financial challenges. I agree difficult decisions are necessary. But the decision to ignore people who have demonstrated a willingness and ability to help themselves does not reflect my priorities or the values of our great state.