Panel to highlight budget impasse

Mallory Kutnick, Campus Reporter

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EDIT: A previous edition of this article cited a claim from a Center for Tax and Budget Accountability website with a misleading statistic about Monetary Award Program grants for 2016, saying that they were cut by 53.5% in FY16. The article should have said that while MAP grants were technically only enough to cover half a year of MAP claims, the ISAC received funding multiple times that year, which provided the remaining coverage for FY16 MAP claims. The News regrets the error.

A panel discussion to examine budget cuts to higher education in Illinois will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday in the Buzzard Auditorium in Buzzard Hall. There is no fee to attend the discussion, but registration is required and begins at 8:30 a.m.

The program – “Higher Education: Collateral Damage in the Budget Battle” – will be hosted by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois. According to its website, the CTBA is preparing to release a new report exploring the impact of Illinois’ budget cuts to universities and local communities.

The panelists include Charleston mayor Brandon Combs; Ralph Martire, executive director of the CTBA; John Miller, president of the University Professionals of Illinois and political science professor Richard Wandling.

Jim Nowlan, senior fellow in the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, will moderate the panel. Similar panel discussions will be held in universities across the state.

Martire, who co-authored the report that will be presented to attendees and panelists, said it will be based entirely on concrete facts with the goal of putting context to the cuts.

“We’re all about promoting public policies that will lead to social and economic justice,” Martire said.

According to the CTBA website, state funding for higher education in 2016 was cut by $1.318 billion, or 67.9%, compared to 2015 levels. MAP grants especially help low-income and first generation students, the website said.

The effects of the cuts to higher education reach beyond the universities. Since colleges and universities are often the largest employer in a given region, if they struggle for funding, local economies also struggle.

For every dollar spent on schools, more students want to and can afford to attend; they run errands at local shops and use services from local companies. They study to learn specific skill sets that can be applied to the real world.

Martire referred to this as an economic engine and said university profits affect their local communities more than the universities themselves, be it positively or negatively.

Over 16,000 students moved to other states in 2016, according to the website, which also warns “faculty will not come to Illinois or remain in Illinois when the financial situation is so uncertain.”

States are competitive, Martire said.

Blooming markets bring more people in, further stimulating the economy and forcing other states to improve. A state without a budget, however, draws people away; they move elsewhere, find new jobs and buy goods and services from the states they now call home he said.

 

Mallory Kutnick can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]