Days after vetoing a measure to help low-income college students, Gov. Bruce Rauner signaled he's open to another way of making it happen.
Rauner's reason for rejecting the Democrats' funding plan was that it would have sent Illinois deeper into debt.
But Rauner -- a Republican -- has said he'd be OK with an alternate GOP approach -- because it's paired with money to back it up. The governor's doubling down on that notion.
He says he'd sign money for what are known as MAP grants (via the Monetary Award Program) --- if lawmakers loosen the rules under which government and universities make purchases.
"Let's do procurement reform. Pass a MAP grant bill. And let's fund our MAP grants right now. There's no reason we can't do that," he said.
In response, House Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman Steve Brown said "To say 'I'm going to trade that for funding for poor college students' seems pretty raw, seems pretty raw."
The governor also gave a nod to a new plan that would forward money to schools in the greatest need -- like Chicago State, Western and Eastern Illinois universities -- by diverting money from other programs.
The measure Rauner vetoed would have sent money to community colleges, too. But it left out public universities, despite their also having gone nearly eight months without state funding.
That legislation is sponsored by Republican Rep. Reggie Phillips, whose district encompasses EIU, and Chicago Democratic Rep. Ken Dunkin, who is facing a primary battle after breaking ranks with his party. It ostensibly frees millions for higher education by allowing the state to forgo repaying funds dedicated to special needs that Illinois dipped into to cover a previous budget imbalance. Advocates from those various causes decry the plan. There's also the belief that while the money would help higher education to make due during the impasse, it would lessen their chances of ever getting full funding this year.