Rauner vetoes map grants legislation

By Samantha Jones Toal

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation that would have appropriated $721 million for the Monetary Award Program, MAP, Friday.

In a press release, Rauner said the bill would, “would explode the State’s budget deficit, exacerbate the State’s cash flow crisis, and place further strain on social service providers and recipients who are already suffering from the State’s deficit spending.”

Currently, the state has no budget, leaving colleges and universities across Illinois without state funding.

The lack of funding has led to schools such as Chicago State University to consider closure. In addition, the state budget impasse has caused the around 130,000 students in Illinois who receive MAP grants to face more uncertainty.

In November, Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson sent an email to MAP-eligible students notifying them that if the state fails to allocate money for MAP grants, students will need to pay back the money credited to their accounts for the spring semester.

On Wednesday, University students traveled to the capitol building in Springfield to protest the state’s inaction on MAP grant funding, coinciding with an address by Rauner about the state budget.

“Despite its constitutional obligation to balance the budget, the General Assembly has not put forward a plan to pay for these programs, whether through spending reductions, revenue, or cost-saving reforms,” Rauner said in the release.

Rauner instead advocated for the passing of a Republican-sponsored higher education funding legislative package, which would appropriate $1.6 billion for higher education programs including the MAP grant program. The proposed legislation would reduce the amount appropriated for MAP grants from the Democrats’ proposed $397 million to $373 million.

In addition, Rauner supported the passing of Senate Bill 2789, entitled the “Unbalanced Budget Response Act,” which would give the governor special authority to reallocate resources and make reductions to state spending as the executive branch sees fit.

Rauner’s veto comes a little over a week after President Barack Obama delivered an address to the state legislature stressing the need for bipartisan cooperation and an end to the “poisonous political climate.”

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