During the week, drastically different approaches emerged for funding MAP grants, Illinois community colleges and universities. Higher education and MAP grant funding have not received a penny this fiscal year, due to the state’s ongoing budget impasse.
The first proposal, Senate Bill 2043, pushed by legislative Democrats, amounts to little more than an empty promise, according to Senate Republican lawmakers. Though Senate Bill 2043, which passed the General Assembly on Jan. 28, would appropriate $721 million to higher education, Senate Republicans pointed out the legislation did not identify a revenue source to pay for the appropriation. Additionally, the bill provides no funding for Illinois’ public four-year universities, only allowing for funding of MAP grants and community colleges. The Governor is expected to veto this measure when it reaches his desk.
The second proposal, Senate Bill 2349, a comprehensive solution sponsored by State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), would allocate nearly $1.7 billion to fully fund MAP grants, community colleges AND the state’s universities. Senate Bill 2349 is contingent on a piece of companion legislation, Senate Bill 2338, which creates the Unbalanced Budget Response Act. The Act would provide the Governor with the authority necessary to reallocate state money to fund higher education, as well as filling other holes in the state’s current fiscal year and next fiscal year’s state budget
One additional solution would be to tie a procurement reform proposal the Governor estimated would save taxpayers $500 million each year, to higher education funding, as a way to finance the state’s community colleges, universities and MAP grants. Unlike the Democrat’s proposal, this comprehensive approach would provide revenue to fund the proposal and ensure neither higher education institutions nor students are left high and dry.