EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a statement by state Rep. Dwight Kay of the 112th District.
In February, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation sold to the higher education system as an appropriations bill to fund Illinois community colleges and MAP grants.
The bill was vetoed by the governor because it (Senate Bill 2043) lacked any funding mechanism, which means the higher education bill vetoed was essentially an IOU with no money appropriated to pay community colleges and MAP grants.
Our higher education system is unfortunately caught in the middle of the gridlock in state government given the fact that the state has approached its eighth month without an operating budget.
Over the past year I have met and spoke with leaders from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Lewis and Clark Community College and Southwestern Illinois College — all of which should not be held hostage during the current budget impasse.
Illinois has one of the finest higher education systems in the country and we must do all we can to help them continue to succeed, which is why I co-sponsored House Bill 4539 Jan. 27 to fund Illinois’ public universities, community college system, and MAP grants. This legislation appropriates $1.68 billion from the general fund to provide funding for all of Illinois’ public higher education system, including Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Lewis and Clark Community College and Southwestern Illinois College. Public universities will be funded at 80 percent of their fiscal year 2015 appropriations, community colleges will be funded at 90 percent of their fiscal year 2015 appropriations and MAP grants will be funded at 100 percent of their fiscal year 2015 appropriations.
This plan is a compromise in light of the current budget impasse and will provide much-needed funding to keep Illinois’ public universities and community colleges open.
Governor Rauner has agreed to sign this legislation. I encourage all my colleagues in the House of Representatives to join me in sponsoring House Bill 4539 to provide much needed funding for our public universities and community college system. I am told if no action is taken soon, a number of state universities and community colleges will run out money.