IL Higher Education Coalition urges a state budget - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

IL Higher Education Coalition urges a state budget

(Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS) (Source: Giacomo Luca, KFVS)
CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) -

A new coalition of business, labor and organizations representing colleges and universities in Illinois are calling on state lawmakers to pass a state budget.

Illinois has pressed into its eighth month without a formal state budget which means the state's higher education institutions have not received funds for that long.

The Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education met Tuesday inside the Stone Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) to discuss the current and long-term effects of an Illinois without a budget.

Carbondale Mayor John "Mike Henry spoke said lawmakers are playing partisan politics and hindering the state from moving forward.

“This is unconscionable the way the state of Illinois is being run now," Henry said.  "It effects education, it effects the entire state. We are the laughing stock of the United States. It’s time for it to be over.”

Henry said the health of SIUC has a direct effect on the health of his city.

Colleges and Universities in Illinois are facing many challenges as a result of the states budget deadlock, coalition members said. Prospective Illinois college students are beginning to look out-of-state for their education. Some Illinois colleges are being forced to cut programs and layoff employees due to a lack of funds. Current students are worried they won't be able to afford schooling if the state grants are defunded, according to coalition members.

Sophomore SIUC student from Peoria, Ill., Abigail Tochalauski, is seeking degrees in Anthropology and Communications Studies.

“Without this money it’s detrimental to my education," Tochalauski said.

She receives the need based Illinois Monetary Award Program grant that offers as much as $5,000 to students for tuition.

“And without it I would have to either work more on top of the 20 hours I already work a week or take out loans which would leave me with the poverty that I’m already in," Tochalauski said.

SIU System President Randy Dunn said the university is reassuring students SIU will continue its mission during the budget stand off.

“There’s great worry that comes in not having the level of state support that the state has promised to them for continuing their educations," Dunn said.

Dunn said he and other university leaders are trying to figure out what effects the stand off will have in the future.

"It's an uncertain time for all of us, they feel it as much as anyone," Dunn said. But again were not disappearing and the core work of what it means to be a University is still going to go on no matter what."

President Barrack Obama will address the Illinois General Assembly on the ongoing budget stalemate on February 10 in Springfield.

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