Saturday, April 9, 2016

State news update

IHBE leaders warn that community colleges certainly can't front MAP grants, universities probably can't. The DE has coverage of our students' worries on this front here. Even if public universities, including SIU, somehow manage to continue funding MAP grants, the loss of MAP grants at community colleges would mean a massive loss in college access, including for many students who would otherwise eventually transfer to SIU.

GOP floats new bill to fund social services--not universities. The Republicans argue this bill would pay for such spending, unlike previous democratic efforts to fund social services and higher education. One way their bill pays for social services (and not for public universities) is to require public universities to pick up pension payments for anyone making over $180,000. I.e., it pays for social services, in part, by taking money from universities. Social services need funding, and I'm not terribly sympathetic to the financial plight of folks making more than $180,000, but universities cannot simply renege on promised pension benefits to them. The rest comes from the mysterious "special funds". They are apparently a real problem (one beyond my ken), but "sweeping" them has consequences, at least in one case where taking gasoline taxes meant to pay for leaking gasoline tanks. Ultimately the state needs a real budget: the belief that we can solve state budget problems via special funds is the state-level equivalent of saying we can solve university funding problems by cutting administrative bloat.

Rauner calls for putting partisan differences aside, attacks other side.  Our governor penned a letter to the State Journal-Register (Springfield) that started off with happy talk about putting people first and then quickly became a pitch for his own short-term proposals to fund universities and social services. My analysis of those proposals is here. The same day he called for negotiations he gave a speech at a GOP Lincoln Day dinner that the local paper characterized as a call for "Staying the Course".

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