As expected, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill Friday that would have funded higher education for low-income students in Illinois.
Rauner explained his reasoning for vetoing Senate Bill 2043, citing concerns over the state’s deficit spending and social services.
“[The bill] would explode the State’s budget deficit, exacerbate the State’s cash flow crisis, and place further strain on social service providers and recipients who are already suffering from the State’s deficit spending,” Rauner said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Rauner aide Catherine Kelly told Ward Room that Rauner would veto the bill.
Rauner faults the General Assembly for not devising a plan that aligns with a balanced budget for the state.
“Despite its constitutional obligation to balance the budget, the General Assembly has not put forward a plan to pay for these programs, whether through spending reductions, revenue, or cost-saving reforms.”
The state of Illinois has been without a budget since July of last year. The impasse has been typified by Rauner’s battle with the Democrat-controlled legislature over his Turnaround Agenda.
Senate President John Cullerton, one of Rauner's most staunch opponents during the stalemate, seemed bewildered by the governor's decision.
“I’m disappointed in the governor," Cullerton said. "I don’t understand how he can propose funding student financial aid on Wednesday, and then turn around and veto it on Friday.”
Democratic Presidential candidate slammed Rauner over his agenda during a speech on the south side Wednesday.
“The governor has refused to start budget negotiations unless his so-called ‘turnaround agenda’ gets passed first,” Clinton said. “Now, his plan will turn Illinois around, all right. All the way back to the time of the robber barons of the 19th century.”
Rauner defended his agenda during a radio address Thursday.
“What we’re trying to do with our agenda is actually have the government working for the families here again and growing our economy so we got more jobs and putting more money into our schools so we have the best schools in america,” Rauner said. “That’s the right thing to do.”
The impasse has caused huge problems for state universities and community colleges, including funding of scholarships and grants. Institutions of higher education in Illinois are unsure if they will be able to continue to front money for MAP grants.
A group of hundreds of students from across Illinois rallied Wednesday in Springfield to call for a higher education budget that would bring an end to the economic uncertainty surrounding the state’s universities and community colleges.