New proposals are pending in Springfield to address the lack of state funding being provided to higher education institutions during the ongoing budget impasse, now in its tenth month.
Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) has proposed a $558.3 million measure that would fund some higher education institutions, but not community colleges, and Monetary Award Program grants through August. The lawmaker's proposal, which would be funded through the state's education assistance fund, has the support of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"We want to see all of higher education funded," Fortner said. "But right now, this stopgap would provide the critical piece to bridge us across."
Another pending proposal, sponsored by Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan), would cost $166.3 million and cover one year of funding for the universities most impacted by the budget impasse. The plan would cover Chicago State, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois and Northeastern Illinois universities. Community colleges are not covered under the plan. The proposal, which cleared the House Executive Committee Tuesday, could be tweaked to include some funding for Southern Illinois University.
Mayfield said the measure aims to "keep the doors open until, hopefully, we get a budget this summer."
To offset the bill's cost, the state would not have to repay funds borrowed from special state accounts to address the 2015 budget.
State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) has introduced yet another higher education funding plan. It would use a needs-based approach to distribute $400 million to universities from the state's education assistance fund. Another $100 million would go to community colleges and MAP would receive $365 million under Righter's proposal.
As lawmakers consider the proposals, the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education is set to rally in Springfield Wednesday for a higher education funding solution.
"Legislators and the governor need to recognize the serious consequences 10 months without state funding is causing for Illinois colleges and universities and end the stalemate now," reads a news release from the coalition.