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Rauner Plans Massive Budget Cuts for Higher Education in Illinois By John K. Wilson

On Feb. 19, 2015, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced a proposal to cut state funding for higher education by $387.3 million, a reduction of 31.5%. Illinois State University President Larry Dietz noted, "Cuts of this magnitude would have a devastating impact."

The UIC Faculty (an AFT/AAUP affiliate) declared, "The budget plan the Governor announced yesterday is not only a catastrophe for the University but an attack on the very idea of public higher education in Illinois. He wrongly thinks that cutting back on our citizens' access to a serious research university will grow our economy and (like his colleague in Wisconsin) he also thinks somehow that attacking public workers is the way to prosperity. Members of our union will naturally differ on how to solve the state's budget problems. But it's hard for any of us to see how the Governor's cutbacks are taking us in the right direction. After all, as the nonpartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has shown in its recent analysis of Illinois public finances, the state has been cutting spending for more than 15 years, to the point where the current fiscal year budget spends between 23% and 28% less than was spent in FY 2000. That includes a 41% cut (inflation adjusted) in money for higher education. Illinois has the country's 5th largest population, 5th highest GDP, and 12th highest per capita income, yet ranks 28th in general fund spending per capita, 36th in general fund spending as a share of state GDP. Illinois ranks 49th in number of state workers per 1,000 residents. But even for those who are unimpressed by the statistics, it is impossible not to see that abandoning higher education at the very moment when education matters more than ever is a recipe for disaster."