Bustos Urges Governor Rauner to Solve Higher Education, Budget Crisis

WASHINGTON – Last night, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and several members of Illinois’ Congressional Delegation expressed disappointment and extreme concern over the impact of Governor Rauner’s budget standoff on college students and higher education in Illinois. In February, Governor Rauner vetoed a higher education bill that would have freed up state funds for higher education and scholarships to low-income students.

“Illinois’ college students are unfortunately yet another victim of Governor Rauner’s ‘Downturn Agenda’ for our state,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “It’s nothing short of appalling – and very revealing – that the Governor would rather see low-income Illinois students drop out of college rather than pass a budget that funds higher education and critical scholarships for students. It’s time for Governor Rauner and the state legislature to work together to pass a budget. There have been too many casualties as a result of the Governor’s ongoing attack on working families so I strongly urge him to restore this critically important funding to allow our children to achieve their full potential.”

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

The Honorable Bruce Rauner

Governor of Illinois

Office of the Governor

207 State House

Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Governor Rauner,

We write to express our dismay over the plight of students in our state. As you may know, because of the prolonged budget impasse many Illinois colleges and universities have been scrambling to solve growing budget shortfalls. This has led to extreme measures, directly preventing our citizens from bettering their situation through education. Recent events at Chicago State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology exemplify these extreme measures and highlight a crisis which we urge you to use your authority to solve.

This week, Chicago State announced further preparations for massive layoffs starting April 30. They have sent notices of potential termination to all 900 of their employees, including 300 faculty members. A pillar of the Chicago’s South Side, Chicago State is in danger of no longer being able to offer students a quality education at an affordable price. The Illinois Institute of Technology was recently forced to announce that students will need to pay back the grants they received through the Monetary Assistance Program this fall and a suspension of all assistance for the spring. Students are now forced to choose between paying their grant money back immediately, accepting a 12 month loan at 6.8% interest or being denied from class registration, effectively forcing them to drop out.

In February, you vetoed a bill that could have helped solve this problem, publicly stating that this is “a very tragic situation” and “a failure of the government.” As the Governor of our state, you have the responsibility to rectify these tragic situations and ensure that government operates properly.

We implore you to consider how funding education will improve our shared prospects and increase future revenue. Making the right choices now will have long term benefits. This issue is too important to our future to do nothing.

We urge you to reconsider your veto and become part of a solution to this problem.

Sincerely,

Bill Foster                                                                               Bobby Rush

Member of Congress                                                               Member of Congress

Robin L. Kelly                                                                        Danny K. Davis

Member of Congress                                                               Member of Congress

Jan Schakowsky                                                                      Luis V. Gutierrez

Member of Congress                                                               Member of Congress

Mike Quigley                                                                          Cheri Bustos

Member of Congress                                                               Member of Congress

Tammy Duckworth

Member of Congress