State legislators have approved tuition assistance and stopgap funding for state universities.


The Illinois General Assembly struck a rare $600 million bipartisan deal Friday giving short-term dollars to community colleges and state universities and tuition assistance for students.


State Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, said his legislation gives a lifeline to students and universities alike.  


“These are our schools that prepare our children, that also are the economic engine for the communities in the state of Illinois that makes us the great state that we are,” Trotter said.


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State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, said he is happy schools will get money, but the lack of social services money is a tragedy.


“Because of our actions, our social services agencies are crumbling in this state,” Franks said. “They’re closing all around us.”


Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Burr Ridge, reassured Democrats that Republicans will work with them to get Illinois’ social services agencies funded.


“This is not the end of our work for 2016,” Durkin said. “I’ve discussed my commitment to work with you as early as next week to bring some resolution to this problem we have on the human services side.”


Republicans said House Speaker Michael Madigan almost killed the higher education bill by attaching other measures Republicans didn’t support, but Madigan later withdrew those provisions. The $600 million in funding will come from special funds for education and won’t add to the state’s $7.2 billion backlog of bills.


(Copyright WBGZ /