Lawmakers ask for compromise in higher ed. funding - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

IL state leaders speak on higher education funding crisis

Illinois Capitol Dome in Springfield (Source: KFVS 12) Illinois Capitol Dome in Springfield (Source: KFVS 12)
CARTERVILLE, IL (KFVS) -

Following the recent stream of layoff and cut announcements from public colleges and universities in Illinois, State Rep. Terri Bryant (R, Murphysboro) and State Sen. David Luechtefeld (R, Okawville) set out to speak out about House Democrats' "inaction" in Springfield.

"Compromise is give or take on both sides," Rep. Terri Bryant said. "We have a multitude of bills that have been filed in the House and the Senate that addresses higher education. Some of them people like, some don't like." 

When asked for comment on Friday, a spokesperson at Speaker Madigan's press office placed blame on what he called the "severity" of cuts proposed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

"The governor's demands for the Illinois budget are what is causing higher education to suffer." said press secretary Steve Brown on Friday. "The governor needs to get off demands unrelated to the budget, and adopt a more sensible approach."

Both Bryant and Luechtefeld say "It's hard to compromise when House Speaker Madigan and and his legislative majority take a month off."

Bryant and Luechtefeld explained that scheduling decisions on bills and spending plans is left up to the Speaker's Office.

"It's getting critical now and this needs to be solved." Said Luechtefeld on Friday. "The only way to solve it is to sit down with the leadership and say, 'let's work this out." 

"Nobody's on vacation." Brown Said on Friday. "Those who are complaining about this hiatus must have been snoozing... They missed plenty of chances to get things done in the past, and this hiatus has been scheduled since November."

Southern Illinois University in Carbondale has announced the potential layoffs for more than 180 faculty, administrative professional and civil service staff positions on Wed. Mar. 9th.

The previous week, Administrators at John A. Logan College approved 55 employee layoffs, blaming the Illinois Impasse for a projected lack exceeding $10 million.

The Illinois House approved House Bill 2990 on Mar. 3rd 2016. 

The bill is a $3.7 billion spending plan which would send money to things like public universities and community colleges.

2990 would need to subsequently be approved by the Illinois Senate, then be signed by the governor, but house republicans and one political analyst say they don't expect that to happen.

"Until there's a predetermined agreement with the governor, nothing would become law." said SIU Political Science Professor and Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Director David Yepsen over the phone on Friday. "When there's a bill that they all agree on publicly, as, or before it's being voted on, then we will see action. That will require some level of compromise from everyone in Springfield in writing a bill, getting it passed and getting it signed."

Illinois’ public colleges and universities have gone eight months without state funding because legislators have failed to agree on a formal state budget.

Chicago State University has announced it may close down at the end of its spring semester. CSU administrators made the decision to close two weeks early on April 28 to save money.

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