U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) is worried the lack of a state budget is putting institutions of higher education throughout Illinois at risk. He said it could be a "disaster" for state universities and private colleges to recruit students with so much uncertainty surrounding their bottom lines.
“There is just a lack of confidence by a lot of families in encouraging their sons and daughters to go to an Illinois college," Durbin said. "Will it be funded? Will it be open? Will I ever graduate? And a lot of these students are deciding to go out of state."
Durbin addressed Illinois' budget crisis with reporters on Sunday, prior to delivering Knox College's 171st Commencement Address to roughly 300 graduates.
Durbin said both parties are to blame for the 11-month budget impasse, but he specifically targeted Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda" as the main culprit for the deadlock in Springfield. Sen. Durbin considers the pro-business plan to be “flawed and wrong."
“He’s got to swallow his pride on this and stop this notion of bringing down middle-income families as a recipe for tomorrow’s economic future in Illinois,” Durbin said.
For his part, Rauner softened his stance on the passage of his "Turnaround Agenda" as a condition of the passage of a state budget. But that was not enough as the May 31 deadline came and went without the Democrat-controlled Illinois House and Senate agreeing on a budget.
Durbin was quick to dodge a question about challenging Rauner in 2018... telling reporters to "cool it."
“We are 2 1/2 years away from an election, and I would hope that all of that inquiry and energy would be focused on solving the current budget problem,” Durbin said. “Don’t spend a second speculating. I’ve got a great job and I like what I’m doing. I’ve done it for a while, I want to continue to be able to do it.”
Durbin’s current term in the U.S. Senate expires in 2020.