News Local/State

Gov. Rauner Signs Higher Ed Measure

Gov. Bruce Rauner in a visit to an AutoZone distribution facility in Danville March 29.

Gov. Bruce Rauner in a visit to an AutoZone distribution facility in Danville March 29. Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation to keep major Illinois universities operating until fall.  The Republican signed the bill Monday after a debate over the temporary spending plan last week in the General Assembly.

The $600 million package includes $170 million for the Monetary Award Program, a needs-based grant that colleges had to dole out this past school year without state reimbursement.
Rauner and Democrats who control the Legislature still have been unable to agree on a full-year plan for the budget year that began July 1.

Illinois' top House Republican, Jim Durkin, says it took Chicago State’s closing to get Democrats and House Speaker Michael Madigan to quit playing games.

"Chicago State had the most immediate concern and I think that that is why we were able to get the final product that did not have all these add-ons that the Speaker hoped to put on the bill," he said.

The first-term governor released a statement Monday saying the law doesn't solve the budget crisis but is "a first step toward compromise.''  But he reiterated his demand for business reforms and union-power curbs first.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman says it took pressure from other Republican lawmakers to keep Durkin from adding other reforms to that spending bill.

Meanwhile, the President of Eastern Illinois University says leaders there are quickly assessing the best use of $12.5 million in the funding package. 

David Glassman says EIU also receives about $3.5 million in reimbursement for MAP Grants.

Appearing on WEIU-TV’s “Issues and Attitudes” Monday, Glassman admits the funding is roughly a third of what the university got in fiscal 2015, and will only go so far.

“And so we’re limited as to what we can do, but we’re going to use it with the best return on the investment for the university," he said. "And so we’re going through those machinations right now.”

In a mass e-mail Monday to the EIU campus community, Glassman called the $600-million in funding for public universities approved by legislators Friday ‘a step toward a comprehensive FY 16 budget.’ 

He also thanked the many students, staff, alumni, and others who have rallied on behalf of Eastern during the 10-month budget stalemate. Glassman said "our legislators have heard your message and they are responding."