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The "Crisis of Confidence" series is a multi-year effort by the Tri States Public Radio to document the impact the two-year state budget impasse had on Western Illinois University and the ongoing recovery efforts at WIU. State support for public higher education institutions has been steadily declining in Illinois for more than a decade. But the issue was compounded, during the state's historic two-year budget impasse during Fiscal Years '16 and '17 which left public colleges and universities with little state financial support. At Western Illinois University, that drastic cut in state appropriations resulted in significant budget cuts, employee furloughs, and layoffs.

State Leaves Colleges, Universities And Students Waiting

WIUM
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Higher education continues to be caught in Illinois lawmakers' political crossfire.

And not just because the House failed to override a veto of legislation that would have allowed at least SOME funding for the first time in eight months.

Legislators spent most of yesterday debating how to pay for Illinois' colleges and universities --- with nothing material to show for it by the time they'd adjourned.

Then, once the Capitol cleared out, an evening email from House Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown announcing a "new compromise effort."

"It's being offered because we listened to the alibi hour all Wednesday afternoon from the Republicans, and they kept saying, 'well you have to have a way to pay for it, you've got to do this, you've got to do that.' "

So Brown says Democrats got on board with a concept Republicans have endorsed.  It relies on an accounting contrivance, with the net effect of funding higher ed by diverting money meant for other needs.

But it does more, too: it includes money for a range of social service programs.

To Republicans, it's no olive branch --- it's a Trojan horse.

The governor's office calls it "phony budgeting."

Copyright 2016 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Amanda Vinicky
Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.