House Democrats pass amendment to potential budget bill

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

The Illinois House Democrats passed an amendment to Senate Bill 006 Tuesday that called for changes in the amount of funds universities, including Eastern will receive to cover the end of the 2016/2017 fiscal year.

The current fiscal year ends on Friday.

Rep. Gregory Harris (D-Chicago) introduced amendment 001, which changes not only the amount of funds initially proposed, it changes where some of those amounts come from.

According to the proposed amendment, Eastern will possibly receive $11,078,300 from the general revenue fund and $5,675,400 from the Education Assistance Fund for a total of $16,753,700 to cover the remainder of the fiscal year ending Friday.

Compared to the original bill, which called for $11,171,700 to be appropriated from the Education Assistance Fund to Eastern “for ordinary and contingent expenses,” no date was given in the Senate Bill for the amount to be applied in.

The amendment also calls for about $40.8 million to be appropriated to Eastern from the Education Assistance Fund for the 2017/2018 fiscal year starting July 1.

The sum of $21,000 will be appropriated from the State College and University Trust Fund to Eastern for scholarship grant awards, according to the recent amendment.

In the original bill, $38.7 million was to be given to Eastern as well as $8,000 from the State College and University Trust Fund for scholarship grant awards, with $364.9 million to be given to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for the Monetary Award Program grants.

Amendment 001 calls for the same amount, however where the money would come from differs.

$77.9 million would come from the general revenue fund and $287 million from the Education Assistance Fund compared to the original bill, which takes $141 million from the Education Assistance Fund and $223.9 million from the general revenue fund.

The Senate approved Bill 006 after it adopted two amendments (#7 and #8) and sent it to the House on Tuesday, May 23 where it has remained until earlier this week.

Though it seems like progress, the Paul McCann, interim vice president for business affairs, said statehouse leaders are still “a ways away” from being excited.

He said the amendment is just another version or suggestion and the only difference is it has been filed by house Democrats.

As for the process of the bill in all, McCann said it is up to the statehouse to sort through all the various versions of the bill.

“It is part of the negotiating process,” he said. “Before they can start real negotiations, they have to have somebody’s suggestion on the table.”

McCann said there are currently four suggestions, one from the senate, the governor, the House Republicans and now the House Democrats. Though none of them are too far apart, he said but they are still different.

Therefore, lawmakers have to come up with a solution to all the other conditions that each of the parties set forth, he said.

As for when a possible budget will be achieved, McCann said he has no idea and there is not answer right now.

What the university is waiting on, he said, is the budget implementation bill because it tells everyone what the General Assembly is willing to spend.

However, they have not come forward with one yet.

At this point, McCann said it is still a matter of “keeping our fingers crossed.”

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]