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'The Best In A Generation': Higher Ed Board Members React To Legislative Session And State Budget

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education are satisfied with how higher ed fared in the new state budget passed by Illinois lawmakers.

For several years, Illinois higher ed officials have been fighting their way out of the hole dug during the two-year budget impasse.

But they say the budget, passed by the General Assembly, is a big improvement. Nyle Robinson is the Higher Education Board’s Interim Executive Director.

“...major steps in repairing the damage," he said. "In fact, this is arguably the best session for higher education in a generation."

The board met Tuesday at Northern Illinois University.

Higher ed will get an 8.2% increase in general funds over last year.

According to the board members, that’s the largest increase for any year since they started keeping track of it in 1990.

There is also a $50 million dollar boost for Monetary Award Program grant funding.

Tom Cross is the chair of the Board of Higher Education. The former state Republican lawmaker is especially pleased to see the state pay attention to MAP grants.

“Oftentimes, if someone doesn't have access to MAP -- they don't go to school and I think that's almost a crime," he said. "If we can help students get an opportunity to go to school that's very helpful to them, it's helpful to the economy, it's  helpful to the state of Illinois.”

Cross said he hopes state leaders can find a balance in the budget to keep increased education funding sustainable in the future.