State Senate looks at college affordability

From Illinois News Network

College affordability was the focus of a Senate Committee of the Whole earlier this week.

During the hearing, representatives from academia talked about the need for continued investment of tax dollars in public education while Republican Senators asked for the institutions to find ways to share the sacrifice.

University of Illinois professor Dr. Jennifer Delaney said proposed cuts to higher education will have long-term impacts outside of just increasing tuition.

“Such that state sales and income tax revenue will be reduced by approximately $41.5 million dollars. And the related increased Medicaid, welfare, prison and other associated costs from the state having a less educated workforce would increase the state deficit by $24 million.”

Republican Senator Matt Murphy said that there must be some changes at the universities to control costs.

“When are the universities gonna give these students and their parents a break and when are the universities going to pitch in?”

Murphy said there’s never been any real explanation from the state’s universities on how they can control their costs and stop hitting up parents, students and taxpayers for more money.

Applegate: Efficiency and more money must be plan for higher ed

Efficiency or more money? That is the question to solving a funding problems at the state’s public universities, according to Illinois Board of Higher Education Executive Director Dr. James Applegate.

Dr. Applegate said it’s not about either-or, it’s should be either and both.

“Where the state agrees to reinvest and the institutions agree to be smart investments.”

Applegate said reductions in state aid is a direct player into increasing tuition costs, something other witnesses from academia repeated Tuesday.

However, Republican Senator Chapin Rose questioned the cost unfunded mandates play at universities including the steep increase of administrators over the past decade.

“And not just, by the way, some of those personnel may frankly be in response to mandates the state legislature has enacted on them, like the procurement code, which has cost our universities collectively over a hundred million dollars a year.”

Tuesday’s hearing that lasted several hours did not produce any remedies to the unbalanced budget for the coming fiscal year with less than two weeks before the July 1 deadline.

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