SPRINGFIELD… In an effort to keep the doors open at struggling Illinois universities during this unprecedented budget impasse, State Representative Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) has signed on as a co-sponsor of a stopgap measure to provide emergency funding.
HB 2344 would utilize $600 million in available Educational Assistance Fund (EAF) money to provide a short-term solution for universities that face an uncertain future due to the lack of a state budget. “This is a creative solution that solves an immediate crisis without adding to Illinois’ debt,” said Sandack. “We can no longer wait for a budgetary solution to help our state-funded universities, as we’ve been told that one institution is preparing to close its doors on May 1st and others have said they cannot guarantee they will be able to offer a fall semester. The problem is intensified by the May 1 date when all students must declare where they will attend school in the fall.”
Through HB 2344, almost $360 million in EAF money would be channeled to Chicago State, Governors State, Northeastern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, Northern Illinois and Western Illinois Universities, the University of Illinois and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy to cover expenses incurred through the end of August. In September, tuition and room and board dollars for the fall semester flow to these institutions, providing them with much-needed revenue to cover their basic operational expenses.”
In addition, close to $200 million would also be allocated from the EAF to fund one semester of Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for students from lower income brackets. “Our institutions of higher learning have not received a dime of their state funding since July 1 of last year, and we cannot allow our college students to be caught in the crossfire of the budget battle,” Sandack said.
A third component of HB 2344 would provide the universities with an opportunity to save millions through reforms to the existing procurement code. “Obviously, the best course of action would be the immediate approval of a balanced budget by the General Assembly,” said Sandack. “But in the absence of a budget, this measure will fund university operations across the state until their own funding streams produce revenue.”