Republicans Propose Deep Cuts in Illinois’ Higher Education Spending

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Republicans have kicked off the 2016 fiscal year budget process by proposing major cuts to higher education.

Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) says the cuts are needed to create ‘a stable and responsible approach in funding higher education.’

“We can’t afford to continue to blindly allocate taxpayer dollars without taking into consideration how we are going to pay for it,” said Rep. Demmer. “My colleagues and I have identified a new higher education proposal that is funded with general funds.”

A companion bill named the ‘Unbalanced Budget Response Act’ would give the Governor additional powers to limit spending in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 to make sure state spending does not exceed state revenue.

The spending bill would fund higher education at the following levels according to Demmer:

  • 80% University operations funding
  • 90% Community Colleges funding
  • FY15 level MAP funding

“The Democrats’ proposal to fund higher education is misleading; it has no funding mechanism,” Sen. Demmer believes. “This spending plan is contingent on the passage of legislation that would grant the Governor the resources to manage funding appropriately.”

That said, the cuts would be painful, with Northern Illinois University alone losing more than $18 million in state aid.  You can see a chart of the proposed cuts here.

It is also likely a non-starter for Democrats, who hold super-majorities in both chambers of the legislature.  Their focus has been primarily on restoring the expired temporary state income tax to 5% and looking for other opportunities to increase tax revenue to balance the budget while maintaining current spending levels.

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