EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a statement by Katie Stuart, who is running for state representative in the 112th District.
Last week, Dwight Kay chose partisan politics over an opportunity to support the roughly 128,000 students who rely on the state’s Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants to attend college.
As an educator and a candidate for state representative for the 112th District, I am appalled that he chose to put these students’ futures in jeopardy by siding with Governor Rauner in a petty partisan game.
Last Wednesday, the Illinois House of Representatives attempted to override Governor Rauner’s veto of legislation that would direct millions of dollars toward MAP grants for college students in financial need, community colleges, adult education and job training grants. When the bill was first debated in January, Kay failed to support the students and voted present. Despite the chance to change his vote, override the governor, and restore much-needed funding, Kay voted against the bill.
Colleges, universities and students are hurting, yet Dwight Kay continues to ignore the education crisis that he and Springfield politicians created. Dwight Kay has spent the last year turning his back on the problem, voting to cut school funding and standing idle as teachers, programs, and jobs are slashed.
This crisis will only get worse. The state is now $60 million behind in payments to SIUE, with no promise to pay in the future. That’s in addition to the $8 million in MAP funding the state hasn’t paid for the 2015-2016 school year, leaving the university with the bill. Just weeks ago, SIUE officials warned that the current financial challenges are so dire that they threaten the core of the university and its ability to perform its mission. Instead of responding to the crisis, Kay failed us again and voted against a budget that would have funded SIUE and protected the university and local community colleges from severe cuts. Enough is enough.
Our institutions of higher learning and our students need leaders who will stand up for them, not sit back and watch as students’ chances for a college education crumble before our eyes. Dwight Kay and the politicians in Springfield who refuse to make a responsible budget their priority are failing our students and the communities they were elected to serve.
Cutting programs and diminishing students access to greater opportunities is a serious disservice to our entire state and it appalls me that time and time again, Dwight Kay has refused to support funding for our public universities even with SIUE in his own district. I urge Dwight Kay to put politics aside and focus on what really matters most, which is the state budget.
As an educator who has made a lifetime commitment to all levels of education, I promise that if you cast a vote for me in November, instead of supporting a governor who has made a habit of promising one thing and delivering another, I will go to Springfield and represent the needs and interests of the parents and students of this district.