State legislators call for funding higher education

By Paolo Cisneros

State Sen. Michael Frerichs, D-Champaign, and Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, came to the Illini Union on Sunday to speak to the Illinois Board of Higher Education Student Advisory Committee about the importance of funding higher education in Illinois.

Their appearances came just four days after university trustees voted to raise tuition, citing a lack of state funding as one of their primary reasons for doing so.

“This isn’t something we should be selfish about,” Frerichs said. “For this state to truly lead, we need to do a better job of funding and supporting higher education.”

Illinois lawmakers have not passed a large-scale capital bill since the Illinois First Act provided $12 billion for public works eight years ago. Only portions of that money, however, went to fund higher education.

Frerichs said state funding is needed for more than just keeping tuition down. Facilities on campuses throughout the state are in dire need of repair, he said.

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He encouraged students in the audience to participate in the student lobby day on April 9 in Springfield, Ill., in addition to calling their senators and voicing their concerns regarding higher education funding.

“I think that matters more to them than me calling,” he said. “We need to make sure that they know higher education is important.”

Jakobsson spoke about her support of a new bill that would work to keep textbook prices low.

“The last time I had a textbook bill, Follett’s and other bookstores and publishers met with me and told me what a bad deal it was for them,” she said. “This year we sat down with all the other players and really began to make some progress.”

Other topics covered during the event included the environmental effects of the proposed artificial turf on the intramural fields near Stadium Drive and First Street, specific bills sponsored by either Frerichs or Jakobsson and ways to increase voter turnout among college students.