It took a long week and a lot of late nights, but state lawmakers finally agreed on a $600 million proposal to temporarily fund higher education. The temporary fix comes as Chicago State University threatened to close its doors, a notice that triggered protests in Springfield.
“It’s not the final budget agreement by any means,” 51st District Senator Chapin Rose (R) said, after the passage of the bill on Friday. “But it’s starting to move things in the right direction.”
Rockford Senator Dave Syverson (R) voted for the bill, saying there was no other option, but then immediately blasted it as a giveaway to Chicago. That’s because while area universities like NIU and Rock Valley College will get 30% of their budgeted state funds, CSU will get 60 % or about $20 million.
“The frustrating thing about this was is that every university has made difficult cuts to try to bring their spending into line except for one, Chicago State,” Syverson said Saturday, going on to call it another example of house speaker Mike Madigan using a crisis for the benefit of Chicago.
“Once again, the speaker and the City of Chicago take advantage of the situation and take a disproportionate amount of this state’s taxes,” he added.
With the college funding bill being supported by members of both parties, could we finally be seeing some cracks in the budget standoff? Syverson doesn’t think so.
“The problem is that it is an election year and the speaker will look at this and say ‘if there is chaos in the budget, will the governor take more blame, or will I?” Syverson added. “And ‘if the governor takes the blame, what reason do I have to solve the problem if he is going to get blamed for it?’“
Rockford’s Democratic Representative Litesa Wallace also issued a statement following passage of the bill. She said, “This piece of legislation was a stopgap measure that does not fund higher education at the levels that students deserve. I am eager to get back to Springfield to craft a more permanent solution.”