Illinois Lawmakers Looking for Funds to Boost Higher Ed.

Presidents and other administrators from Illinois' public colleges and universities took part in a news conference Wednesday regarding funding for higher education.

Governor J-B Pritzker proposed a 5 percent budget increase for public universities and community colleges. But, State Representative LaShawn Ford says the appropriations committee is having a hard time finding the revenue to fund the governor's proposal.

"If we wanted to leave the budget flat for FY 20, we could not do it because the revenue is short by $102 million. Which means that the universities will need to work with us to figure out we're going to raise revenue, so that we are not responsible for making unnecessary cuts to the university systems."
 
SIU System President Kevin Dorsey says more funding is vital, especially for the Carbondale campus, which is 150 years old this year.
 
"That means we've got some old buildings, old infrastructure. In some cases, it's actually going to be cheaper to build a new building than deal with the deferred maintenance issues that we have."

Dorsey says funding is the lifeline for higher education considering Illinois schools must compete with each other and others states for a shrinking number of potential students due to a declining birth rate.
 
"This is a population that represents our future, and I think as others have stated, it's clearly an investment."

Dorsey says he appreciates the work the Illinois General Assembly is doing to try to push through a higher ed budget the schools can use.