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University Presidents: Illinois' Budget Gridlock Has Schools On The Brink Of Serious Damage

University of Illinois Public Affairs

Illinois' elementary and high schools are operating as normal; funding for education was the only spending spared from Governor Bruce Rauner's veto pen. But universities are another story. They haven't gotten a dollar from the state since July.

Collectively, Illinois' public universities educate some 200,000 students a year. Now, the campuses are "on the brink of serious operational damage."

So says a letter all nine state public university presidents sent to the governor and legislative leaders. The letter says requiring the schools to operate without state funding is "unsustainable."

"There's no question that the circumstance for everybody will be bleak if there's not a budget in the foreseeable future, and a promise of some reasonable and predictable level of state support for public universities," Tom Hardy, the spokesman for the University of Illinois, said.

In their letter, the university presidents ask the governor and top lawmakers for a meeting, and urge them to pass a budget.

The letter says government funding is a "fundamental tenet of the partnership between the state and public universities."

The problem problem isn't just that schools are starting a fourth month without money from the state; school can't plan or make spending decisions, because they don't know how much they'll get from the state once a budget is passed. Legislators' plan - the one Rauner vetoed - cut higher education by eight percent; the governor proposed a cut of more than 30 percent.

The letter was signed by the presidents of: the University of Illinois, and Chicago State, Eastern, Governors State, Illinois State, Northeastern, Northern, Southern and Western universities.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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