Illinois higher education advocates rallied at the State Capitol Wednesday, urging the governor and legislators to reach a solution on higher education funding.
At their protest, members of the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education, made up of "business, labor, and organizations representing public and private colleges and universities," stressed that "higher education cannot afford more funding delays from Springfield."
Higher education institutions and the Monetary Award Program, which provides college assistance to low-income students, have gone unfunded since July 1.
"For many months now, we have heard from legislators and the governor about how badly they want to fund our MAP grants and colleges and universities, but have not come to an agreement on how to do that," said rally organizer Dave Tretter with the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities. "With only a few weeks left before the end of the legislative session, we come together today to tell our leaders: You've found ways to pay for all other major state expenses in this budget year. It's time to find the funding for our state's future and save higher education today."
John Miller, president of the University Professionals of Illinois (IFT Local 4100) and a Western Illinois University professor, was also at the rally.
"We are reaching a breaking point in higher education, and we're standing up together to say enough is enough," he said. "Governor Rauner's vetoes and irresponsible refusal to pass a budget until legislators give in to his political demands have created a serious crisis. He is leaving more than 130,000 needy students without tuition assistance and forcing layoffs and potential closures, all while quietly proposing an additional 25 percent cut to next year's higher education budget. The time to fund our future is now."
There are several higher education funding proposals currently pending in the legislature.