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Universities Still Hurting Amid Budget Impasse, But See Some Good In Rauner Plan

State of Illinois

Illinois public colleges and universities have become collateral damage in the state’s months-long budget impasse, fueled by political stalemate between Illinois’ Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the democratically-controlled General Assembly.

Rauner says he’s willing to consider more state revenue to pay for support to items like public colleges and universities, but only if lawmakers pass his pro-business, union-weakening “Turnaround Agenda” first.

While higher education officials say the absence of a state budget could potentially cripple all or parts of public colleges and universities, there are some parts of the governor’s Turnaround Agenda they can get behind. That includes lifting certain restrictions in the state’s “procurement code.”

Illinois State University VP for finance Greg Alt says the code basically ruined months of research for new food vendors in ISU’s student center.

The school invited 100 student-suggested restaurants to bid for the project. Only ten responded, and “nine were disqualified before we could read their proposals for technical reasons,” Alt said.

The lone survivor?

“It was Denny’s,” Alt said.

Other college officials told lawmakers at a hearing Monday that changes to worker’s compensation law and elimination of the prevailing wage could help universities raise revenues.

Hannah covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio. She previously covered the statehouse for The Daily Line and Law360, and also worked a temporary stint at the political blog Capitol Fax in 2018.
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