News Local/State

Governor Attends Dedication For New Center For Wounded Veterans At U Of I

The Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education at the University of Illinois.

The Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education on the University of Illinois Urbana campus. University of Illinois

With the governor and other dignitaries in attendance, the University of Illinois opened a center on its Urbana campus to help wounded war veterans earn college diplomas.  

The Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education opened Friday in Urbana. It’s named for lead donor Ron Chez, an Army veteran who heads a financial consulting firm, and chairs the Champaign-based high-tech company, EpiWorks. 

The new facility at 908 W. Nevada St. will run programs to help wounded veterans get college degrees and make the transition from military to civilian life.

Gov. Bruce Rauner attended the ribbon-cutting along with donors, university officials and veterans.  

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that Rauner apologized for the difficult times faced by the university and other institutions because of the state government's budget impasse.  

The first-term Republican governor and the Democrat-dominated Legislature have failed to agree on a budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1.  

The presidents of the state's nine public universities, including Timothy Killeen of the University of Illinois, wrote a letter Thursday warning Rauner and legislative leaders that the schools were "on the brink of serious operational damage.''

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs warned this past week that as the budget impasse in Springfield wears on, the state may have to sell off $10 billion in investments if it can't pay fees to banks that hold state accounts.

Governor Rauner told reporters he's disappointed the budget fight has wrought this consequence.

"We are having to take drastic action that we don't want to take," said Rauner. "That's terrible for us to have to dip into principal in our investments. I don't want that. We don't have a budget, we're not honoring our commitments and we've got to do what we've got to do."

But Rauner says the responsibility is on Democrats who control the legislature to pass a balanced budget. Earlier this year, Rauner passed up a chance to shape the budget with his own veto pen.

Rauner and Democratic leaders haven't met in months.