Candidate discusses public school funding

By Brian Slupski

Democratic state senate candidate John Nelson called for the transfer of $129.1 million of state funds from private schools to public universities at a press conference Monday in the Martin Luther King Commons.

“In this time of the state budget crisis our state tax monies should be used exclusively for our public, not private institutions of higher learning,” Nelson said.

The state has often been criticized for subsidizing private higher education at the apparent expense of public higher education.

However, advocates of private universities have said funding private institutions lessens the burden of public higher education by enrolling large numbers of students, thus keeping public higher education’s enrollment numbers down.

Nelson said he thinks it is a good idea to fund private institutions, but he said in a budget crisis tough choices have to be made.

“It is unfortunate that the Republican New Federalism of trickle-down deficits and economic hardship has caused us to consider such a harsh choice as the one I am proposing,” Nelson said.

Nelson admitted that the transfer of funds would cause some dislocation for students, but said he would rather cut private institutions opposed to cutting public universities.

“We should consider this budget transfer before we make the dramatic and ill-defined cuts recently proposed by the Illinois Board of Higher Education for our public universities,” Nelson said.

The IBHE cuts were recommended as part of their Priorities, Quality and Productivity (PQP) initiative. Nelson said the management style PQP is based on has two thrusts.

The first is to raise morale by getting all areas involved in an improvement process, the second is to find areas of cost saving, Nelson said.

Thus far PQP has failed to achieve either of these goals, Nelson said.