Higher education leaders in Illinois to make push for funding

In just a few days, university and higher education leaders from around Illinois will rally in the capitol building for your tax dollars, long held up by the state’s ongoing budget impasse. The lack of funding to colleges and universities isn’t only a growing concern for school leaders, but for students, too.

Even on a busy Monday with classes and quizzes to get to, the financial impact from Illinois’ budget impasse weighs on the minds of many around Southern Illinois University Carbondale, from campus leaders to students like freshman Robert Finch.

"It is really worrisome, because I mostly have to get money from financial aid, scholarships. I’m worried it might not be able to come through anymore," Finch said. The freshman is studying zoology. He chose SIU specifically for its research opportunities. An Illinois native, he said he’s no stranger to the budget woes in Illinois.

Even with stopgap funding received this academic year, walking around campus you won’t notice much of a difference. Campus leaders say that’s not surprising considering they’re down millions of dollars over the last year and a half without that secure state budget.

SIU spokesperson John Charles said the college has been forced to defer maintenance and leave positions unfilled for more than a year, implementing roughly $30 million since the impasse began. Charles said SIU needs to see funding restored, because doing without hurts families relying on SIU for health care, jobs and the learning environment for students.

"Yeah, I think it’ll help the school be more financially stable and just be able to know what the future holds," Finch said. He said he loves SIU, but hopes to see the state resolve its budget issues so things can quiet down for the campus.

The rally for higher education will be held Wednesday inside the capitol Rotunda in Springfield. Led by the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education, they will urge lawmakers to pass secure funding for universities.