Gov. Bruce Rauner Declares War on Higher Education and the Poor in Illinois


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.

Rauner seems to be following the economic model that worked so “well” for Gov. Brownback in Kansas and Gov. Walker in Wisconsin.

Just how has that austerity approach worked out for Kansas and Wisconsin?

Additional Sources:; Crains Chicago Business


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615 thoughts on “Gov. Bruce Rauner Declares War on Higher Education and the Poor in Illinois”

  1. Paul,

    Aw…don’t go getting your knickers in a twist because we caught you fibbing. Bill O’Reilly must be your hero.

    1. Elaine – you always lost at hide and go seek didn’t you? Research is not your area. And I could care less about Bill O’Reilly, but it says much that you think he is my hero.

  2. Paul,

    You can’t help me find them because you never answered my questions. And that’s the truth!

    1. Elaine – the truth is you have not looked hard enough to find them. And you wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped up and bit you on the nose.

    1. Elaine – no means I am not going to help you find where I originally answered the questions.

  3. Paul

    Damned if I can find where you answered Elaine’s questions. Will you cite the time of the post?

  4. Paul,

    What were your answers. I didn’t see them. Can you help me find where you posted them?

  5. Paul,

    Here–I’ll repost these questions that I posed to you earlier. You never responded to them.

    BTW, who are the individuals on the team that evaluates charter schools? Do they have the expertise to conduct reviews of an educational facility? How do they check out the administration that they observe/see so infrequently? What do they look for when they observe teachers and students? Do they have criteria by which they evaluate a school and its staff? What do they look for in lesson plans? The devil is in the details.

  6. Paul,

    I don’t know why you demand that I answer your questions when you refuse to answer mine. Do you not know the make-up of the board that reviews charter schools in Arizona and/or not know how the board goes about reviewing the charter schools?

    1. Elaine – I have been very patient in answering your questions. Now it is time for you to answer some. Are you unable to answer my very simple question?

  7. Audit: US oversight of charter school funds lax
    Oct. 24, 2012

    WestEd also examined state charter oversight policies in California, Arizona and Florida, which collectively received $275 million in federal funds for charter schools from 2008 to 2011…

    In Arizona, which received about $26 million, reviewers lacked a monitoring checklist and thus collected inconsistent data when they visited schools.

    1. Elaine – I am hearing crickets here. How often was your school audited by outside groups?

  8. I hope things have changed in Arizona since this article was was published:

    Education at charters is spotty, oversight lax
    15-year report card: Problems can persist for years with no action

    But an Arizona Daily Star investigation has found that state regulators rarely visit charter schools, that sporadic oversight sometimes allows academic and financial issues to continue for years, and that information about charter schools is difficult for parents to come by.

    Among the Star’s findings:

    The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools has only seven staff positions — and only five are filled — to oversee 502 charter schools. Regulators visit a school once in each of its first two years and may never go back.

    Information about how schools spend public dollars and about complaints and other problems is difficult to obtain. Instead of going to your local school district office, you must drive to Phoenix to look at records. In Arizona, you can go online to check whether gas stations pass inspection, but not charter schools.

  9. You have to tell me more about the board the that reviews charter schools in Arizona. I already asked you if you could provide information about it.

    1. Elaine – you will have to tell me more about the people who audited your school regularly.

  10. Wade,

    You notice that Paul didn’t answer your question. It may be true that few people attend most school committee meetings. It’s not true, however, when residents know that important issues are going to be discussed. Sometimes hundreds of residents show up for the meetings…sometimes it’s SRO. I know. I attended school committee meetings in the town where I taught and in the city where I used to live when the committees were taking up the issues of closing school buildings, the need to build new schools, whether the communities should participate in school choice, etc.

    1. Elaine – you are correct. If their is a hot topic people show up. You have yet to tell me how often you were audited by outside auditors?

  11. Paul

    Are there open, public regularly scheduled meetings with a school board for AZ charter schools as Elaine has described for her TPS?

    You have described the process for getting one opened but have not described any public regularly scheduled meetings for citizen inquiry.

    1. Wadewilliams – all school boards are required to give notice of their meeting times and agenda. They are open to the public. Average attendance in a district of 3000 students is less than 5 for any meeting. The only people who attend are those who have to. Same with any public meeting. 🙂

  12. From a report by the Brookings Institution:

    “Arizona’s charter school law is unique in allowing charter schools to operate for 15 years before coming up for review.”


    BTW, who are the individuals on the team that evaluates charter schools? Do they have the expertise to conduct reviews of an educational facility? How do they check out the administration that they observe/see so infrequently? What do they look for when they observe teachers and students? Do they have criteria by which they evaluate a school and its staff? What do they look for in lesson plans? The devil is in the details.

  13. Paul,

    What personnel matters are you talking about?

    Our school curriculum was made available online.

    So…the charter schools get the okay and open for business…then fifteen years later they are reviewed. Wow, great oversight!

    1. Elaine – there are on-site reviews of the charters every three years. A team comes in for a couple of days, spend time in the classrooms, look at the lesson plans, check out the administration, etc. Recommendations are made if necessary.

      All personnel matters taken by the board are held in secret. Hiring and firing (discussions of such).

  14. Excerpt from my post about the high teacher turnover rate in charter schools:

    Excerpt from the Vanderbilt report titled Teacher Turnover in Charter Schools:

    Our analysis confirms that much of the explanation of this “turnover gap” lies in the differences in the types of teachers that charter schools and traditional public schools hire. The data lend minimal support to the claim that turnover is higher in charter schools because they are leveraging their flexibility in personnel policies to get rid of underperforming teachers. Rather, we found most of the turnover in charter schools is voluntary and dysfunctional as compared to that of traditional public schools.

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