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Universities Could See Budget Cuts

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Higher education will see a funding cut next year, but Democrats want to lessen the impact compared to what the Republican governor called for.

Gov. Bruce Rauner suggested a more than 30 percent reduction. Democrats are proposing a 6.5 percent cut to universities.

Republicans voted against the Democrats' measure in committee. GOP Rep. Mark Batinick from Plainfield says the cost of doing business in Illinois is too high. That includes the business of higher education.

"The reality is, versus other states, we actually dramatically overfund education--higher education--yet we're not seeing it in the tuition for the students," Batinick said.

Despite the cuts, Democrats propose an increase for MAP grants, which make college more affordable for low-income students.

Democratic Representative Christian Mitchell from Chicago says this will help get rid of the barrier of access for some students.

"So that kids who qualify and are able to get into college have the money to go so that they can be productive citizens and, you know, create the next great innovations that might, you know, move all of us forward," Mitchell said. "So I think that what we're doing is saying here are our priorities, here are the things we care about, we'd love to meet you in the middle."

The sponsor of the proposal says the increase could help up to 15,000 more students than last year, but uncertainty remains. Democrats' budget package spends more than the state is set to take in next year.

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.
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