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Rauner Conveniently Forgets Damage Done to Higher Education System

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Yesterday, Governor Bruce Rauner continued his amnesia tour, bragging about funding Illinois’ universities, despite the fact that the higher education system has been decimated under his failed leadership. Rauner claimed his administration would increase “funding every year now going forward so we have the best higher education in the country.”
What did Rauner leave out? Well, the fact that his budget impasse pushed higher education in Illinois to the brink of ruin:

  • Underfunding: Rauner proposed drastic cuts in his first budget, and his impasse would lead to dramatic underfunding as state funding dwindled.
  • Out-Migration: 46% of Illinois graduates are headed out-of-state for a four-year degree, compared to 29% in 2002.
  • Lower Enrollment: 72,000 fewer students were enrolled during the two-year budget crisis and some schools, like Eastern Illinois University, saw a drop of 13%.
  • Junk Bond Ratings: Five state universities were downgraded to ‘junk’ bond status.
  • Higher Tuition: Students were paying 6.7% more in tuition and fees during the impasse.
  • MAP Grant Uncertainty: Rauner’s veto and budget instability left students and colleges in the dark as to when and how MAP grants would be funded.
  • Staff Cutbacks: 7,500 higher education jobs were lost because of the budget impasse.

“Bruce Rauner forced a two-year budget crisis on Illinois, decimating funding for our higher education system and threatening the state’s economic future.”  said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “With no accomplishments and a record of damage and failure, Bruce Rauner knows his only path to reelection is to pretend the past four years never happened.”

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Background:
MODERATOR: “What do you call the high points of yours? Is it higher education? Is the Department of Corrections dealing with the oldest bill? What are your high points?”
RAUNER: “Yeah so there was a lot of very good things in the budget and some not so good things. The good things I’ll say first is education. We’ve done historic things for K to 12 schools around the state. Record funding. You know the Democrats under Madigan before I became governor in the prior 10 years, they had cut state support for our schools 4 times in the prior 10 years. I became governor, I fought for more money for our schools, especially our small school districts and our rural districts. Record funding. We got 1.4 billion dollars more going to our K-12 schools, which is wonderful and the right thing to do. We also fought and got more MAP grant funding for higher education. We got 50 million dollars in a merit scholarship program for kids who stay in-state and go to in-state schools. We also got 25 million dollars more for our state universities as we increased their funding every year now going forward so we have the best higher education in the country. So that’s, education, number one priority for me and we got it done.”