Successful bipartisan effort to provide $600 million in stopgap funding for higher education passes

State universities statewide are facing sharp cutbacks and, in some cases, threatened shutdowns due to the current budget impasse. The failure of the Illinois General Assembly majority to enact a balanced budget has led to cash-flow situations affecting Illinois higher education. However, the stopgap funding bill passed by the General Assembly on Friday is expected to enable all twelve state university campuses to continue to operate through the 2016 spring and summer terms.

Senate Bill 2059 was presented as a measure to keep state universities open through the summer months and until further funding can be appropriated for higher education. Specifically, the bill has appropriated $600 million for higher education institutions from the Education Assistance Fund, funding which is immediately available.

Rep. Mike Fortner was on the forefront of discussions on this legislation. Fortner proposed a plan on Monday and worked diligently with legislators on both sides of the aisle throughout the week to find a solution to keep state universities open and running.

“This bill was an important step to ensure our universities can keep their doors open through the summer, and to give our students assurance that their universities are there for them in the fall,” said Fortner. “There is still much more to accomplish, but today was proof that we can make progress on funding issues through bipartisan work by members of the rank and file in the House and Senate.”

“Despite a shaky start I’m very glad that a bi-partisan emergency funding agreement for universities, community colleges and students’ MAP grants has finally passed the General Assembly and Comptroller Munger has announced that she is standing ready to begin processing payments. After ten months without funding, our universities were drowning. Today we worked together to throw them a $600 million lifeline. I truly hope that we can build on this cooperative success at the budget negotiating table,” said State Rep. Dan Brady, who serves as Minority Spokesman on the House Higher Education-Appropriations Committee.

The General Assembly approved SB 2059 on Friday and Governor Rauner signed it into law on Monday as Public Act 99-502.