Funding for higher education hit another roadblock Friday. Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed Senate bill 2043, which would have allocated $721 million for Monetary Award Program grant funding. In a statement, Gov. Rauner stated the bill, “would explode the State’s budget deficit, exacerbate the state’s cash flow crisis, and place further strain on social service providers and recipients who are already suffering from the State’s deficit spending.” According to Gov. Rauner, vetoing SB 2043 prevented the Comptroller from delaying payments for other goods and services across state, adding “deficit spending is harshest to social service providers and our State’s most vulnerable residents. Senate Bill 2043 would further delay those payments at a time when those recipients are already under fiscal stress.” Speaking Friday, student members of the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education pointed the blame at both Republicans and Democrats in Springfield, for failing to pass any legislation addressing higher education. UIC’s Student Body President Mercedez Jones blames Springfield for advancing agendas and not focusing on State colleges.
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“I definitely would blame both parties at this point, I blame both parties and the Governor,” Jones said. “I think that nobody is really taking a stand, but a lot of legislators are kinda pushing forth different agendas that don’t really include higher education.” Meanwhile, Springfield State Representative Tim Butler introduced House Bill 4539, an alternative to SB 2043, allowing the Governor, Comptroller, and State Treasurer to implement funding through reallocation of the unbalanced response act, which would fund public universities at 80 percent of their 2015 appropriations, community colleges at 90 percent of their 2015 appropriations and fully fund MAP grants. According to Representative Butler, the bill would appropriate $1.6 billion for higher education by sweeping money from special government funds. Rauner asked for emergency budget authority during budget address Wednesday, to help fund MAP grants. In a statement Friday, Senate President John Cullerton expressed disappointment in the Governor's veto and noting how Gov. Rauner let down students following his budget address Wednesday, saying quote, “I don’t understand how he can propose funding student financial aid on Wednesday, and then turn around and veto it on Friday.”