Thursday, October 15, 2009

MAP grant funding up in the air

By Bethany Jaeger
Antonio Boyzo is one semester away from graduating from the University of Illinois Chicago. Having worked his way up from earning a general equivalency diploma and transferring from a community college to UIC, as well as earning U.S. citizenship in August, he feared Thursday morning that it would all disappear. He feared he would be one of about 137,000 low-income college students in Illinois who wouldn’t be able to afford tuition for the rest of the school year because state funding for the Monetary Award Program had been cut in half.

By midday, the legislature approved Senate Bill 1180 to restore $205 million to fund the second semester of the grant program; however, it did not approve a way to pay for it. The move comes on the heels of an updated — but ominous — projection that the state’s revenues will fall nearly $900 million less than anticipated.

To help pay for the second semester of MAP grants, Gov. Pat Quinn said he proposed to legislative leaders the idea of borrowing from dedicated state funds and repaying the money when revenue flowed back into the state, something called inter-fund borrowing. “It allows [states] to do more fiscal management during an extremely tough time, and that’s what we want to do,” he said outside his Statehouse office Thursday.

The push for major sources of new revenue, he said, will restart after January, when revenue proposals would need only a simple majority of votes rather than the three-fifths supermajority needed now.

The legislature returns Friday for the third day of the six-day fall veto session.

No comments: