Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor
I have to give Governor Bruce Rauner credit for not taking long to show his hand and publicly attack the Higher Education system in Illinois. It has only been a few weeks since he was inaugurated and he recently unveiled his budget. A budget plan that slashes over $200 million just from the University of Illinois alone.
At the very time Gov. Rauner announced he wants to slash the Higher Education budget for all universities in the State of Illinois by almost a third, he claimed that his budget makes education a priority!
“Higher education is set to take a major hit in Illinois.
Following similar announcements by the Republican governors of Wisconsin and Louisiana, newly-sworn in Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner released what he called a “turnaround” budget, that would slash nearly $209 million from the University of Illinois.” Think Progress
“It’s time to make education our top priority again – and that’s what this budget does,” he told lawmakers Tuesday night, touting his plan to give about $25 million more to early childhood education. “With reform, we will be able to invest more in education and give our kids world class schools.” Think Progress
While the proposed budget increases some funding for K-12 education, the University of Illinois system will lose one-third of its state financing under this budget. This very same proposed budget makes absolutely no mention of any increased revenue sources or plans. What will happen to the University system if these cuts are retained in the final budget?
One can expect the cuts to cause increased fees being charged to students as well as the loss of many educational programs. The result of these massive reductions in state financing will be to transfer the costs to students who are already paying high tuition and fee costs. The loan balances of many students already into the 6 figures and Gov. Rauner’s actions will make sure that student debt will continue to climb in Illinois.
So often the claims that all areas of the State have to share in the burden of digging out of a financial hole ends up with some of the most vulnerable bearing the brunt of that burden. If the Governor is convinced that we all have to sacrifice in this job to balance the budget, why wouldn’t new tax sources be considered along with reasonable cuts?
Will these draconian cuts make it more difficult for students from poor and middle class families to obtain a college education? In this very same budget proposal, Gov. Rauner biggest cuts are aimed directly at those who are least able to afford them.
“Yet the state would spend $400 million less on higher education, $600 million less on local governments, and $1.5 billion less on Medicaid, which handles health care costs for poor residents. University leaders and mayors said they were worried, and advocates for the poor said they feared medical needs would go unmet under deep cuts to Medicaid.” New York Times
When the cities, counties and municipalities raise their taxes to pay for basic services for their residents, who has to pay for those increases? “In many cases, Rauner’s state budget cuts could simply end up shifting costs: local governments could choose to raise property taxes, state universities could raise tuition and the CTA could increase fares.” Chicago Tribune
For a man who spent at least $37 million of his own money to get elected governor, he sure has no problem making the middle class and poor pay more for a college education and for health care and local taxes and transportation costs.
Just how has that austerity approach worked out for Kansas and Wisconsin?
“The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.”