SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner addressed higher education very briefly in his budget address Wednesday.
“When it comes to higher education, we understand the hardship being felt by students who rely on state assistance to go to college. That’s why we’re proposing a 10 percent increase to MAP Grant funding — so those students can focus on learning, and not their next tuition bill,” Rauner said.
The governor mentioned only funding for the Monetary Award Program for needy college students, a program that has been underfunded the last two years during the state’s budget impasse.
Rauner’s budget book said that MAP funding would increase to $401.3 million, a figure the governor’s Office of Management and Budget says is $36.5 million more than this year’s level.
But so far this year, only $151 million has been appropriated for MAP. A separate part of the budget book makes reference to supplemental appropriation of $218 million to “complete” this year’s appropriation to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which oversees MAP.
Likewise, the budget book says that the University of Illinois would get $555 million under his fiscal year 2018 budget, and that would be a reduction from $587.6 million this year.
But so far in fiscal 2017, the UI has been appropriated only $355.8 million in state funds, all of which came from a “stopgap” budget bill that covered funding for only the first six months of the fiscal year.
The budget book mentions a $231.8 million supplemental appropriation to the UI as well.
State funding to the UI last year was just $185 million.
Overall, higher education funding would be $1.825 billion next year under the Rauner budget plan. That’s an increase from $626 million last year. But it would be a decrease from the $1.83 billion that the Rauner budget listed as “estimated” appropriations this year.
Another section of the Rauner budget book laments the $83 million in additional funding next year to the State Universities Retirement System, saying that sum could provide MAP grants for an additional 30,000 students.
The budget book claims that the $1.6 billion set aside for university system pensions is greater than the amount appropriated for universities and community colleges.
“As with K-12 education, pension changes would free up resources for our state’s public college students while preserving earned benefits for college staff and retirees,” says the book.
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February 15, 2017 at 11:18PM