By Bob Balgemann


BOONE COUNTY – State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, called it a “shock wave in Springfield.”

He was referring to a bipartisan effort to fund higher education with an actual revenue stream, not false promises as had been the case in the past.

“Senate Bill Amendment III provides crucial state funding for colleges and universities,” he said. “Although this is only a small measure of financial assistance, it is enough for them to provide MAP grants and keep professors in the classroom across the state, confidently until a final budget is agreed upon.

“Illinois colleges and universities have gone 10 months without any funding from the state. Chicago State University (CSU) has faced many challenges, but financially we need to keep a close eye on CSU. It appears they have done little to curb costs and are one of the least effective public universities in the state. They have a lot of work to do.”

The bill, which has been signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, offers the following budget percentages for the 2015 fiscal year: Chicago State: 60 percent, four-year universities: 31 percent, community colleges: 27 percent, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy: 35 percent, and MAP grants: 43 percent.

“The state can financially support higher education at those levels without placing other programs and service providers in fiscal jeopardy,” Sosnowski said.

State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Sycamore, who also represents Boone County, said the $600 million appropriation was “stop-gap funding for higher education.” He added that may be a sign that the gridlock over a fiscal 2016 state budget may be breaking.

“Apparently the unrelenting rallies and pressure from groups cut out of FY 2016 spending have had their effect on the budgeting process,” the lawmaker said. “Legislators pressured the governor and Speaker of the House (Democrat Michael Madigan) to put aside their personal differences and allow stop-gap funding for providers.”

Court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations have allowed all of state general revenue to flow to about 95 percent of state programs, he said.

“Over the past 10 months of the budget year, the balance of providers funded last year have had to cut programs, lay off staff, use reserves and take out loans to get by,” he said.

“Coffee Talk” Friday

In addition, Rep. Sosnowski announced that he and Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain will have a “Coffee Talk” from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Friday, May 6 at Corrugated Metals Inc., 6550 Revlon Drive in Belvidere.

He said he and the mayor want to meet with residents and address their questions and concerns about local and state government.

A tour of the business also will be part of the morning’s gathering.

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