Higher Education Needs Real Support, Not Hollow Promises

State Representative John Cavaletto, minority spokesperson for the Special Needs Services Committee, this week opposed legislation that promises to fund some of the higher education needs in Illinois, but does not appropriate actual dollars to help students with MAP Grants or community colleges that are laying off workers and closing down programs.

“I voted against this irresponsible legislation that will add over $700 million to our deficit and does not include a funding source for these important programs. This plan by the Democrats is the kind of financial mismanagement that has Illinois where it is now and we need to stop making these hollow promises to community colleges,” declared Rep. Cavaletto. “Colleges need to be told the honest truth that there is no money for these MAP grants and operational programs in this legislation, but we do have legislation that does provide a funding source, if the majority party will let the bills out of committee,” explained Cavaletto.

According to the governor’s Office of Management and Budget, today’s legislation (House Amendment 2 to SB 2043) would make appropriations at funding levels the same as those contained in last year’s General Assembly-passed unbalanced budget, which was even opposed by some Democrats along with all Republican legislators and which was vetoed by the Governor. Today’s proposal provides no funding source to pay for the additional spending as it is not tied to spending reductions, revenue nor cost-saving reforms. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget concludes that House Amendment 2 to SB 2043 would add $721 million to the deficit, increase the state’s bill backlog by the same amount, and delay state payments to providers, vendors and contractors. Therefore, GOMB would recommend the Governor veto this legislation if it came to his desk.

House Bill 4539 and Senate Bill 2349, on the other hand, would appropriate $1.6 billion dollars for all programs included in SB 2043 and Illinois’ public universities. The legislation is tied to another bill, HB 4521/SB 2338, which would grant the Governor authority to respond to an unbalanced budget by reallocating funds and reducing spending in various ways. HB 4539/SB 2349’s approach is far more fiscally responsible than SB 2043 as it would help MAP students, community colleges and universities without exploding the deficit, skyrocketing the bill backlog or exacerbating the state’s cash flow crisis. Therefore, GOMB would recommend the Governor sign this legislation if it came to his desk with HB 4521/SB 2338.