State Sen. Dave Koehler praises education funding in new state budget
State Sen. Dave Koehler is praising the state's recently approved budget, partly because of a boost to higher education funding.
“We know that affordability of higher education is one of the big deterrents for having students come out of high school and pursue a college degree,” Koehler said in an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas and WCBU’s All Things Peoria.
Koehler is a Democrat from Peoria who represents much of Bloomington-Normal and Peoria and rural areas along and north of Interstate 74.
The $50.6 billion spending plan that state lawmakers passed over the Memorial Day weekend provides an additional $100 million for public universities and community colleges and sets aside $100 million more for student MAP (Monetary Award Program) grants.
The budget also funds Gov. JB Pritzker’s early childhood plan called Smart Start that aims to eliminate preschool deserts and expand the childcare workforce.
Koehler added despite the increase in funding for higher education, Illinois' funding formula for colleges and universities is flawed, especially when it comes to Illinois State University.
“ISU as an example is one of the state schools that does not have the same amount of equity funding per student as other state-supported schools,” Koehler said. “I’d like to see that brought up a bit.”
Recently, ISU was added to Koehler’s district when the state drew new political maps following the 2020 census.
Koehler also said he supports increased funding for law enforcement that’s included in the budget to address an increase in violence. “We hear about incidents every weekend,”he said.
The budget provided $30 million for police departments to buy equipment, including body cameras that are a new state requirement. It also includes $10 million for police departments to hire and retain officers and $4 million for firearm ballistics technology.
Koehler pushed back against Republican claims they were shut out of the budget process by Democrats, who hold supermajorities in the House and Senate.
“We hear that every year, so I’m not surprised,” said Koehler, adding the budget included several Republican priorities.