State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) says a measure rammed through by House and Senate Democrats is portrayed as funding for community colleges and student MAP grants, but the legislation has no source of money to actually pay for the appropriation.
“This would result in nothing more than another empty promise for our universities,” said Sen. Barickman. “Yes, we need to fund our colleges and provide promised MAP grant funding, but we can’t do that because the money isn’t there.”
Senate Bill 2043, which was passed by the Senate on Jan. 28h, would spend $721 million on community college funding and MAP grants for students. However, the state only had $69 million in its General Revenue Fund on the day the bill passed, and current estimates show the current backlog of unpaid bills is now more than $7 billion.
The state is currently on pace to spend $36.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2016, while only taking in around $32 billion.
“We could have spent this time in Springfield working on a responsible budget,” said Sen. Barickman. “Instead, some members of the General Assembly just voted to write more bad checks to our already struggling universities. This is just shameful.”
Just one day earlier, Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed reforms aimed at helping colleges and universities to cut costs and free up more money to be used in the classroom. Rauner’s proposal to reform the procurement code is estimated to generate savings close to $500 million per year across all state government.
“What’s most troubling is that just 24 hours ago, our Governor used his ‘State of the State’ address to focus on cooperation and bipartisan action,” said Senator Barickman. “And then today, Democrat leaders go right back to their same old political games and empty promises. We aren’t going to be able to find real solutions to issues like higher ed funding until Democrats show they have the will to reach across the aisle and negotiate in good faith.”
Senate Bill 2043 is now headed to the Governor for his signature, though Rauner is expected to veto the bill.