SUAA Mini Briefing
February 5, 2016
East, West, North and South Higher Education Campuses Are Yelling For HELP!
Due to the unfortunate impasse of the Fiscal Year 2016 State Budget, funding for MAP Grants (The Illinois State Monetary Awards Program for dependent students from families with incomes less than $60,000 or independent students) were put on hold.
A significant number of the State supported universities, private universities/colleges and community colleges are partly facing financial problems because the schools covered the costs of the MAP Grants for their incoming fall semester students. With the beginning of the spring semester a few campuses could still afford to cover the cost of MAP Grants, but a significant number of universities and community college campuses could not. Therefore, these students became the pawns (or maybe a better description is collateral damage).
The campuses fiscal problems continue to mount because there has been no financial support during the 2016 State Budget impasse. The universities were already in place to receive a budget cut of 31.5% from the State. The community colleges were in line for flat funding based on the 2015 Fiscal Year. The lack of funding should have never been allowed to happen. Politics in Springfield should not keep students from financial aid or from receiving an education.
Even after the passage of House Floor Amendment #2 to SB2043 there are a significant number of legislative bills being introduced to get funding to the campuses (SB2043 does not include universities.) Governor Rauner states that he will veto SB2043. The question at hand is will there be legislators to come forward for a legislative override?
For more State financial information please take some time to listen to Comptroller Leslie Munger’s Press Conference this past week. She details problems associated with an increase of $1.2 Billion more in spending this Fiscal Year. The State is currently down $5 Billion in revenue due to the lowering of the State Income Tax. Add these two figures together and the State is $6.2 Billion further in debt. Causing more concern is a $7 Billion backlog of bills. By the end of Fiscal Year 2016, the State will be behind $10 – $12 Billion. She adds that since the State cannot claim bankruptcy the residents of Illinois will have to pay the bill, which in order to come out ahead would have to be as much as a 7 to 8% State income tax. (currently 3.75%)
SUAA readers could be wondering why the funding of MAP Grants, universities and community colleges is being brought to your attention. According to SURS, 79% of our retirees live in Illinois and 69,381 active SURS members are working on our campuses or at other affiliated State agencies. The lack of funding not only hurts higher education as a whole, but in the longer run this undoubtedly destroys many of our communities where the universities and community colleges are quite prominent as employers and use local businesses.
Contacting Governor Rauner (use the link) should be at the top of your To Do List. He has made contacting him quite easy. Ask him to sign SB2043!
A letter to the editor in your local community paper is also quite advantageous! Get out those pens folks! As an employee or retiree you do have something to gain by speaking up!