Governor Rauner switches position on MAP grant funding
Governor Bruce Rauner proposed a significant increase in Monetary Award Program, MAP, Grant funding during his budget address to state lawmakers Wednesday. This comes after previous action by Rauner to veto bills supporting MAP grant funding.
“When it comes to higher education, we understand the hardship being felt by students who rely on state assistance to go to college,” Rauner said. “That’s why we’re proposing a 10 percent increase to MAP grant funding — so those students can focus on learning and not their next tuition bill.”
MAP grants are state funded, need-based scholarships. The program is an approximately $30 million venture at the University of Illinois system, according to University spokesman Tom Hardy.
The program has been affected by the two-year state budget impasse, with the state not providing funding for it this school year. The University has paid advances to support the program for now in anticipation of lawmakers passing a state budget with MAP Grant money included.
If Rauner’s proposal is included in the state budget, it would cover current MAP grants and pay for additional awards.
Besides the proposed grant increase, Rauner did not further address higher education funding. The budget impasse has hit colleges across the state, including the University of Illinois.
The budget also had a call for $7.686 billion for further K-12 education funding, a $213 million increase to this year’s number. Programs for English language learners would get $38 million more and funding for transportation would receive an additional $107 million increase compared to last year.
Rauner’s speech showed that he is open to increasing income and sales tax, and that there is a budget plan in the Illinois Senate that could possibly give the state its first full spending plan since July 2015.
Rauner said the income tax increase will only be approved if there is a permanent freeze on local property taxes, and that the proposed increase will not affect food and medicine taxes. He also said that he is opposed to collecting retirement income taxes.