After ten months without a budget, Illinois lawmakers approved $600 million to keep state colleges and universities open through the summer.
The bill stalled in the Illinois House Thursday evening, but it passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate Friday morning with bipartisan support, the Chicago Tribune reported. For the rest of the year, universities will split $356 million, while community colleges will split $74 million. An additional $170 million will go to scholarships for low-income students.
Compared to the budget Democrats proposed last May, the new funding amounts to a 70 percent cut. But even so, the funding will allow institutions to keep their doors open. Over the last few months, Illinois colleges laid off hundreds of staff members.
Chicago State University, one of the institutions hit the hardest, sent potential layoff notices to all its employees and moved up the end of the school year. It was scheduled to close at the end of April. Under the new bill, Chicago State gets $20 million -- a proportionately larger amount compared to other institutions. But even with the extra funding, Chicago State announced Friday that it will still need to make difficult cost-cutting decisions -- including more layoffs. “The amount provided is insufficient in solving the broader crisis the budget impasse has created,” the university wrote in a statement.
University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen echoed Chicago State’s comments, arguing that the $180 million allocated to the university -- compared to the $647 million it received in 2015 -- won’t be enough. “The U of I may be forced to make additional significant reductions in faculty, staff, academic offerings, student programs, economic development initiatives and public service if it does not receive more than the 27.8 percent of last year’s appropriation that is provided in the stopgap bill,” Killeen wrote in a statement.
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