Senator starts petition to save University of Illinois funding

Luis Martinez, Administration Editor

Illinois Sen. Scott Bennett started a petition in Feb. to stop a $209 million cut to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016.

Bennett represents the 52nd district containing the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Rauner’s proposed 31.5 percent budget cut to higher education could lead to higher tuition costs and student fees to help the university make up the difference.

However, Rauner’s proposal came about a month after the university’s board of trustees instituted a tuition freeze to help families deal with the rising costs of higher education.

According to a press release, Bennett started a petition in late Feb. to urge the governor to “consider the human cost associated with slashing the university’s budget.”

Bennett took the petition to Gifford, Rantoul, Tilton, Champaign, Georgetown and Danville.

The petition is also available on Bennett’s website, where he states the budget cut could mean a potential spike in tuition costs and fees, larger class sizes and a decrease in other resources.

“The University of Illinois is a vital resource not only to our community but for the entire state of Illinois. I’m asking the governor to consider the long-term effects of drastic cuts to higher education funding,” Bennett said in the press release. “These cuts will result in lost opportunities and students graduating Illinois’ public universities with higher amounts of debt—this is unacceptable.”

Bennett also said the state should be looking for ways to make college affordable for families.

“Education increases opportunities for students and drives our economy,” Bennett said. “If we want to continue to grow as a state we need to continue to make investments in opportunities for our children.”

Reena Tandon, a member of the Senate Democrats Caucus Staff, said the senator is more worried about cuts than proposals.

“Each senator fights for resources in the community, for their constituents,” Tandon said.

The petition Bennett started was focused on the University of Illinois since the school falls within his district.

 

Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]