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Universities caution lawmakers, call for budget resolution

Senator Dan Duffy and his colleagues continue to call upon Democrat lawmakers to join the discussion and work to find compromise on the issues of higher education and K-12 education funding as education agencies, such as the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and state universities came before the Appropriations II Committee on March 10 to present their Fiscal Year 2017 budget requests.

ISBE appealed to lawmakers during their testimony to fully fund Illinois’ education Foundation Levels, which the state has intentionally underfunded for years, resulting in proration.

Gov. Rauner has made K-12 funding a top priority, pushing to fully fund the Foundation Levels for the first time in seven years. Senate Republicans continue to express concern that Democrat lawmakers will continue to hold education funding hostage in order to bail out CPS, as previously indicated by Senate President John Cullerton.

EIU, SIU and WIU also appealed before the Committee, calling for an end to the budget stalemate. Now nine months into the new fiscal year, the universities cautioned lawmakers that their institutions and students cannot withstand the consequences of the ongoing budget impasse. Citing loss of students, employee layoffs, decrease in governmental trust, and additional financial burdens, representatives of the universities warned that schools are suffering from being forced to operate without state aid and support.

Republican lawmakers have worked to find a compromise to fund higher education and have stressed that there are a number of available alternatives on the table that would provide money to help fund Illinois’ higher education system. However, efforts to move that legislation have been rebuffed by the Democrat majority who would rather push for empty promises that the state cannot afford.

Senate Republicans remain committed to putting Illinois’ students and taxpayers first, continuing to call for reform that will allow Illinois’ government to be able to provide a consistent, reliable, and balanced budget.

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