Illinois lawmakers approve state budget, maintain UI funding


Photo Courtesy of Antonio Perez/Tribune News Service

Governor J.B. Pritzker answers questions at a news conference on March 26, 2021. Illinois lawmakers approved a budget that will maintain funding for higher education.

By Amrita Bhattacharyya, Interim Editor-in-Chief

Illinois lawmakers approved a $42.2 billion state budget proposal Tuesday, part of which would hold state appropriations at current-year levels for the University of Illinois system.

The proposed budget will be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, expected to sign the proposal into law.

“It marks the second straight year that legislators and the Governor have maintained funding despite the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are grateful to them for investing in higher education and its power to move Illinois forward,” said a Massmail approved by the Office of the President. 

The budget also re-appropriates capital to support various University construction projects, including the development of Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network.

To fund capital improvements, $807 million of the budget was re-appropriated, including the renovation of Altgeld Hall for a math, statistics and data science center. 

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The budget also appropriated $65 million in new capital funding to expand University of Illinois Hospital patient-care services. Part of the money will be used to create a clinical decision unit, adjacent to the hospital’s emergency room, to rapidly screen and test patients. 

The money will also go toward upgrading the emergency room and expanding the Cancer Care Center to a multi-specialty clinic. 

Another aspect of the budget is a $28 million funding increase for the Monetary Award Program, which gives financial aid to Illinois students. 

“The U of I System advocated for increased funding to support a flagship university system that has set enrollment records for eight straight years and has played a key role in helping the state navigate the COVID crisis,” the Massmail said. “But we understand the financial challenges the pandemic has created, and the shared sacrifice that is required to pave the way to recovery.” 

According to the Massmail, the University will resume pushing for additional state funding next year. 

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