Education funds remain constant

By Sabryna Cornish

Money for higher education is still intact.

In order to keep funding for higher education stable, Gov. James Thompson last week urged lawmakers not to override his veto of a bill for medical aid because it would force cuts in education dollars.

Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, said if Thompson’s veto had been overidden, higher education funding would have suffered.

“It’s kind of like no news is good news,” Welch said.

The lawmakers’ decision will allow money for higher education to grow. According to reports released by Illinois State Comptroller Roland Burris, funding has increased more than 82 percent since 1981 and hit more than $2 billion during the 1990 fiscal year.

The budget shot up $286 million between FY89 and FY90 alone, partly because of a temporary tax hike that carried $102 million of the increase, the reports stated.

Still, NIU receives far less than other state schools. According to the report, the University of Illinois is Urbana-Champaign collects more than half of the state’s money. Southern Illinois University in Carbondale gets 17 percent and the Board of Regents – NIU’s governing body – receives 16 percent. The Board of Governors gets 16 percent.

Overall, however, the universities’ take of the money is slipping as enrollments decline. The 10 public universities took 70 percent of the money compared to 74 percent in 1980, but student numbers also are dropping, the reports stated.

In other legislative business, the resolution that would have barred universities from expanding their campuses “didn’t get called up for a vote,” Welch said.

The resolution was introduced last week by Sen. Virginia Macdonald, R-Arlington Heights, and Sen. Howard Caroll, D-Chicago.

It began with Roosevelt University administrators who are upset with NIU’s plans to expand to Hoffman Estates.

The bill would require NIU to stop its Hoffman Estates expansion until the Illinois Board of Higher Education “looks into expanding campuses,” Welch said.