Gov Bruce Rauner, Republican of Illinois, vetoed Senate Bill 2043, which would have appropriated $721 million to support the state’s college students and struggling community colleges, the Illinois News Network reports.
In vetoing the bill, Mr Rauner said the state would be spending money it doesn’t have, signing a check the state can’t cover.
“Despite its constitutional obligation to balance the budget, the General Assembly has not put forward a plan to pay for these programs, whether through spending reductions, revenue, or cost-saving reforms,” he said.
Of the $721 million in the bill, about $397 million would have provided MAP grants for individual students, which are paid directly to the colleges and universities those students attend. And about $274.5 million would have strengthened operations at struggling community colleges in the state.
He, along with Republicans in the General Assembly, would prefer different legislation, including House Bill 4539 or Senate Bill 2349. He says these bills would appropriate some $1.6 billion for programs that could include those in the vetoed SB 2043.
But HB 4539 and SB 2349 are linked to other proposals, not just the MAP grants and community college funding, and Democratic lawmakers consider some of those tie-ins wrong.
For example, HB 4521, on which HB 4539 is contingent, would allow the governor to reallocate funds and cut spending if the budget were found to be unbalanced.
House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang likened the governor’s plan to “imperial powers” that would “shift dollars anywhere he wants.”
“I agree difficult decisions are necessary,” said State Treasurer Michael Frerichs. “But the decision to ignore people who have demonstrated a willingness and ability to help themselves does not reflect my priorities or the values of our great state.”
As of February 19, that great state had unpaid bills that came to about $7.2 billion. The amount goes up every day, as Illinois finds itself eight months into fiscal year 2016 without a budget.
Two colleges announced additional cost-cutting measures last week, because without a state budget, they just don’t have the money, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.
On Friday, Chicago State University sent notices of possible layoffs to all 900 of its employees, and Western Illinois University officials said the institution would trim $20 million from its operating expenses over the next two years, lay off 100 faculty and staff members, and begin a hiring freeze.