SIU, JALC leaders respond to $600M short-term fix approved by IL House

Illinois House OKs $600M lifeline for struggling colleges

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KFVS/AP) - The Illinois House has approved a $600 million short-term funding fix for financially struggling colleges and universities that have been without funding during the state budget stalemate.

The rare bipartisan deal was overwhelmingly approved on a 106-2 vote Friday. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign the bill if it clears the Senate.

SIU System President Randy Dunn released this statement on Friday about the passage of Senate Bill 2059:

"Today, lawmakers, in a bi-partisan fashion, voted to throw universities a lifeline. For SIU, this well appreciated stop-gap measure will give us the ability to operate into the remainder of the year without having to enact, at least for the next six months, the draconian layoffs and budget cuts I presented before the Board of Trustees last month.  It also allows us to plan for operations with an uncertain level of funding now as well as for next year.  It is by no means a final spending plan for this fiscal year – a fact acknowledged by almost every legislator who rose to speak on the bill's behalf.  We thank them for their acknowledgement that there is still work to be done and look forward to continuing our efforts with our campus and state-wide elected officials as they continue to fix this state budget and live up to the covenant the State of Illinois has with its public universities."

The bill comes at a critical time for Chicago State University, which is on the verge of closing its doors.

State Representative Terri Bryant says SB2059 is geared towards buying institutions like CSU more time.

Some institutions, like John A Logan College in Carterville are not threatened by closure, but do face numerous layoffs and cut programs.

As of Friday April 22 2016, the state owes John A. Logan College more than $10 million, which comprises at least a third of their total budget.

"We're not going to get anything near 10 million from this." said JALC President Ron House on Friday, "But the fact that we're going to get something, and the fact that lawmakers are working together on a bill that the governor has already said he would sign gives us very high hopes that we may actually get a reasonable allotment next year, which will not only allow us to keep going, but will let us grow as well."

Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks, who voted no on the bill, says he prefers a full resolution to the budget that should've taken effect July 1.

Money for the bill is possible because of a surplus in the state's Education Assistance Fund. The funding proposal also has nearly $170 million in tuition grants for low-income students.

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Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.