Halpin hopeful about funding for higher education
The co-chair of the Illinois Senate Higher Education committee is optimistic the state will increase funding for public colleges and universities.
“For every dollar we put in today, we’re training young people that will get their degrees and hopefully stay here in Illinois and work and put into the system for the next 20, 30, 40 years. That’s why it’s so important,” said Senator Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island).
His district includes portions of Knox, McDonough, Warren, Henry, Mercer and Rock Island counties.
The budget proposed by Governor JB Pritzker calls for a 7% increase in general operating funds for higher education. He also asked for a $100 million increase in funding for the Monetary Award Program, also known as MAP grants.
Halpin said despite the proposed increases and the 5% operating funds increase in the current fiscal year, the state is still below the financial support it provided to higher education prior to 2015, in inflation adjusted dollars.
“There’s still a lot more work to do, but we’re going in the right direction,” Halpin said.
Halpin said he will do what he can to help Western Illinois University address its long list of deferred maintenance projects. He would like to see the state address its capital needs on a regular basis rather than through a large capital program once every ten or fifteen years.
“I think it’s time that we try on an annual basis to make sure that we’re putting money aside that we can use for higher education capital expenditures and other categories as well,” he said.
Halpin will co-chair the Senate Higher Education committee with Republican Dale Fowler of Harrisburg, even though Democrats hold a supermajority in the Senate.
Halpin said he is excited for the opportunity for bipartisanship.
“I think higher education is one particular area where both Democrats and Republicans can get onboard with policy and funding. I’m glad I have the chance to have this little experiment on the Senate side with Dale,” Halpin said.
He said the state’s residents expect legislators to work collaboratively and do good work together.
Halpin made his comments in Macomb, where he was the featured speaker for the Presidents Day Dinner hosted by the McDonough County Democratic Coalition.
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