Illinois state senators want to use an accounting gimmick to send more money to state universities.
A pair of bills would give an additional $450 million to Illinois’ colleges and universities. State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, said the money comes from forgiving a $450 million loan from special funds for a budget fix in 2015.
“This is something we need to do to show people in our districts that we hear them, and to the extent that when we can work together to do something positive for our districts, we should,” Hutchinson said.
Chicago state Sen. Donne Trotter’s companion bill would then appropriate money to supplement the funds sent last month to state colleges and universities.
“We have since found more dollars which we can appropriate to our universities to make them more competitive,” Trotter said.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, called out his fellow senators over the plan.
“This is ridiculous,” McCarter said. “Swapping money from one pocket to the other. Saying you have money when you don’t. We’re going to go home and tell them, ‘Yeah, we bumped up your higher ed and we saved your schools and we did it with getting rid of a liability,’ which most likely will turn into the need for another tax increase.”
Rauner Spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says “while the Governor is open to discussing emergency bridge funding for higher education, human services and public safety, he remains focused on enacting a comprehensive balanced budget for Fiscal Years 2016-2017 alongside meaningful reforms to grow our economy.”
The bills now head to the House for consideration.