Governor Recommends Cuts To Higher Ed (Again)

Illinois Board of Higher Education Executive Director James Applegate.

Illinois Board of Higher Education Executive Director James Applegate.


The budget that Governor Bruce Rauner proposed Wednesday recommends a 16% cut to higher education.

This year's proposed cut sounds gentler than the 32% reduction Rauner recommended last year. But instead of being spread across higher education, virtually all of the pain would fall upon the state's universities.

These proposed reductions come after higher education has gone without state funding of any kind for more than seven months.

James Applegate, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says low-income students who rely on the state's Monetary Award Program (better known as MAP) are bearing the brunt of the current budget impasse.

"And we're concerned that this breaking the trust on MAP could lead a lot of students to just not even apply. Because why? And that would be a tragedy," said Applegate.

Rauner's budget would, if enacted, fund MAP grants at the 2015 level.

If the existence of an industry of similar size and power was threatened, state officials would try to save it, Applegate said. He cited a recent study that shows 56 percent of Illinois jobs require a baccalaureate degree, and only 19 percent of the workforce has one -- an argument he says isn’t out of step with the governor’s pro-business agenda.

"Unless you are supporting the college education -- two and four-year -- of your workforce,” Applegate said, “you're not investing in the future."

The ongoing budget impasse is the reason that Illinois colleges and universities have received no state aid for fiscal year 2016. Gov. Rauner says a budget agreement will happen once Democratic lawmakers approve his “Turnaround Agenda” --- or pass legislation expanding his budget amendment powers.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio