The Illinois Senate passed a bill Thursday that would send an additional $454 million to the state’s struggling colleges, which are cash-strapped due to the ongoing budget impasse. Last Friday, Chicago State University laid off 300 employees as a direct result of a funding shortage caused by the state going 10 months without a budget.
“I do know that none of us particularly like the situation we’re in right now,” said state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago). “But this is something I think we need to do to show people in our districts that we are listening and we hear them and that to the extent that we can work together to do something positive for our districts, we should.”
If the bill is passed and signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois colleges will take in 60 percent of the funds that they were scheduled to receive this fiscal year. The additional funds would come by way of scrapping payments to other funds the state has borrowed from, including the School Infrastructure Fund and the Supplemental Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund. Some lawmakers oppose the idea due to the funding source.
“This is ridiculous. Swapping money from one pocket to another. Saying you have it when you don’t. Maybe everyone on my side is much smarter and I just don’t get it,” said state Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Vandalia).
Meanwhile, Champaign Republican Chapin Rose said the bill offers a chance for lawmakers “to once again act like adults.”
The bill is now headed to the House, which could vote on the legislation as soon as Tuesday, when the chamber is back in session. Late last month, Rauner passed a bill that sent $600 million to the state’s public colleges and universities.