Rauner budget cuts at University unwelcome

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

The single most important institution to the future of the state is the University of Illinois, and it does not make sense for the University’s state funding to be drastically cut, as Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed. Rauner’s budget proposal, which he announced last Wednesday, plans to cut state funding for higher education by 31.5 percent. This cut equates to over $387 million, and a whopping $209 million of it would come from the University

The state of Illinois sends some of its smartest students to the University to become the future — the next generation of engineers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, journalists and a myriad of other notable career paths. The jobs created and the knowledge gained by these students make it an indispensable institution, one the state relies on. 

Already, the state’s incredible lack of support has harmed the University. Ever-decreasing state support has made the University look elsewhere — namely to tuition prices and nonresident students — to make up for the lost funding. As tuition prices have risen, working-class and middle-class students have been priced out, and that is a whole issue in itself. Even today, before the proposed cuts to the University’s state appropriation, thousands of working class students are left behind because they cannot afford to go here — a $209 million cut may leave many more students behind.

The rising costs have made the state’s top students look elsewhere — to similar institutions in other states. Ask anyone from a suburban Illinois high school — many of their top classmates are choosing to go to college at Purdue, Iowa, Indiana or Missouri because it’s a cheaper alternative to the University of Illinois. 

Seeing these students educated outside of the state, meaning they are more likely to stay out of state for jobs or start-ups, is bad for the state of Illinois. 

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Keeping these students — and their intelligence, inventions and startups — in the state of Illinois should be a priority.

The best way to make the state better is not to take money away from the state’s future. Instead, the state should be investing in the future. We know there isn’t much money to go around, but education should be a priority.  

While we realize not all (if any) of Rauner’s budget proposals will make it into the next budget, this cut is unrealistic and unwelcome. 

It’s nice to see a governor take an aggressive jab at fixing the state’s fiscal position, but cutting funding to the University of Illinois is not the answer to the state’s problems.