Democrat legislators continued to play politics with higher education this week, leaving town after attempting to push through legislation (SB 2043) that would have added more than $700 million to the state deficit. Republican lawmakers stressed the measure gave students and community colleges the false hope of funding since Democrat legislators did not attach a revenue stream to the measure. The proposal also failed to include any operating funds for the state’s four-year universities.
Though GOP lawmakers and the Governor said there are a number of viable legislative alternatives still on table to finance MAP grant assistance and community colleges and universities, it’s unlikely a resolution will be negotiated any time soon. Though higher education and the MAP program haven’t received state aid since July 1, the House adjourned for a month without acting on any of the numerous funding proposals that have been introduced by lawmakers from both parties. The Senate is scheduled to return on March 8, but the House is out until April 4, offering no time for the General Assembly to resolve the issue before early April.
Gov. Rauner has joined legislative Republicans in advocating for legitimate alternatives to fund MAP grants and all of higher education. He vetoed SB 2043, citing the lack of a revenue stream, and though Senate Democrat lawmakers voted to override the Governor’s veto on March 2, their effort stalled in the House.