MAP grant bill to make it to House next month


Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Springfield on July 21. Senate Bill 2059 is expected to be reviewed by the Illinois House of Representatives on April 4.

By Alex Chettiath

An NIU-supported bill, which would fully fund MAP grants and more than 90 percent of NIU’s state appropriations, is expected to be reviewed by the Illinois House of Representatives on April 4.

Senate Bill 2059 would appropriate funds for Fiscal Year 2016, totaling about $3.8 billion in proposed spending for services including mental health, homelessness prevention, highway grants and higher education. The bill would give $85,171,700 to NIU from the Education Assistance Fund and fully fund the Monetary Assistance Program at $397 million.

“[SB 2059] is the most advantageous level of funding that has been proposed this entire session,” said Mike Mann, associate vice president of State and Government Relations and Board Liason.

SB 2059 is one among many bills that have attempted to fund higher education due to the lack of agreement on a finalized budget for FY 2016. Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed a budget that included an approximate 30 percent cut to NIU’s state-appropriated income. Without a finalized budget, these funds cannot be appropriated, thus NIU has yet to receive money from the state for FY 2016.

State appropriations accounted for about 22 percent of NIU’s budget in FY 2015.

SB 2059 was filed on March 13, 2015, and passed a third reading Thursday with a 39-18-0 vote.

“We understand that educating the citizens of the state of Illinois puts us… equal to other states and other countries in this global economy,” said Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago). “This is something that should be prioritized, not only for the betterment of the individual but for the sustainability of the state of Illinois.”

Concerns from legislators across the aisle, including Rep. Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley), are that bills like this do not have sources of revenue considering Illinois’ current financial state.

Trotter said he recognizes the need for new revenue streams and thinks Illinois can look into closing corporate loopholes, changing the sales tax structure and taxing new things like marijuana.

The $3.8 billion proposed spending in the bill is the last 10 percent of the budget that has not been appropriated by court order or consent decrees but may eventually be passed the same way, Trotter said.

SB 2059 is similar to House Bill 2990 which would appropriate the same amounts to NIU and MAP. HB 2990 passed the Illinois House of Representatives on March 3 and is currently being reviewed by the Illinois Senate. Michael Madigan, Illinois House of Representatives speaker, is a sponsor on both bills.

SB 2059 is currently partisan, but Trotter said that in his conversations with Republicans, they have expressed how important this funding is.