Gov. Bruce Rauner says Democrats in the General Assembly are holding colleges like Chicago State University hostage to force a tax increase.
“I believe that the supermajority in the legislature is using Chicago State and many other service providers in Illinois as leverage to force a massive tax hike,” Rauner said in a news conference Wednesday.
He called the news that Chicago State University told faculty to hand in their keys in anticipation of mass layoffs an outrage. He said that the state could help them keep their doors open if Democrats in the General Assembly would agree to pass a bill allowing him to use special funds to keep struggling state universities afloat.
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“We could use that money,” Rauner said. “It’s more than $160 million right now to fund Chicago State, to fund Eastern Illinois University, fund Governor’s State and other schools that are struggling financially.”
Chicago State Students joined various union factions Friday in protests across Chicago arranged by the Chicago Teachers Union Local 1 to protest funding cuts and lack of a state budget.
This is not the first time this year Chicago State has been hit with bad news. In a recent Auditor General’s report, CSU could not account for more than $276,000 worth of university property and had significant issues collecting delinquent student loan debt.
The federal government also fined CSU in 2013 for allowing students with failing grades to continue to enroll and collect aid money.
An aid to the governor released a statement in January highlighting the financial mismanagement of Chicago State, including the 2015 indictment of the institution’s vice president for hiring her mother in a ghost payroll scheme.