Local Lawmakers Renew Call for Compromise on Higher Ed, Immediate Return to Springfield

At a press conference in Normal today, area Republican lawmakers emphatically reinforced their
willingness to compromise on the issue of Higher Education funding.  Local Representatives and Senators stressed that there are numerous viable proposals still on the table that Democrats have so far refused to consider.

“Our higher education funding crisis has reached critical mass. Students, universities, and community colleges need emergency funding now to get through the rest of this fiscal year, but the vetoed MAP bill and the new, largely unfunded appropriations bill pushed by Democrats are shams, not solutions,” said State Representative Dan Brady (R-Normal), who serves as Minority Spokesman on the House Higher Education-Appropriations Committee. “There are real, viable alternatives on the table, including House Bill 4539 that I am sponsoring, which the Speaker has so far denied due process in the House.”

House Bill 4539 would reasonably fund MAP grants, community colleges and four-year universities.  However, unlike the Democrat proposal on MAP funding (SB2043) or the newly proposed $3.7 billion spending plan (HB648) Republicans are calling for a funding stream tied to any proposal that advances.  
“There are a multitude of reasonable proposals on the table to fund higher education and offer our universities hundreds of millions in savings,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “Speaker Madigan and his lawmakers have not only rejected these plans out of hand, they’ve now shut down their chamber for the rest of the month.”

Senate Democrats have refused to allow Republican higher education funding proposals to be heard in committee. Senator Barickman, Senator Bill Brady and their colleagues have offered legislation to both fund MAP grants, community colleges and four-year universities, as well as provide $500 million per year through much-needed procurement reforms.

“Illinois students and universities are at a breaking point.” said Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington). “Last week I introduced SB 3380, which is one of the many viable, responsible higher education funding proposals put forward by Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly. I urge Democratic legislators to work with us on one of these real, reasonable proposals instead of pushing forward with false promises.”

In the House, Democrats refused to debate any workable higher education funding alternatives prior to breaking for the entire month of March.  At the conclusion of House session last Thursday, Republicans made a motion to bring the legislature back the following day.  The motion, despite being completely in line with the rules, was ruled out of order with Democrat leadership.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who determines the session schedule, put in place a four-week gap in the month of March. The House is not scheduled to be back in session until April 4th.

“We’re in the middle of a very real crisis and Speaker Madigan broke his own House rules to avoid considering our motion to stay in Springfield and work. Democrats then hastily voted to adjourn and skipped town for an entire month,” said State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City).  “We want to work together on funding for higher education, for service providers, and for the new budget as a whole, but we can’t do that with the entire House Democrat Caucus on a four-week vacation.”